A Paris prom­e­nade caps Con­ta­dor’s 3rd

Tour de France win con­tin­ues Spain’s cham­pi­onship streak

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Jamey Keaten

PARIS — Al­berto Con­ta­dor stood atop the podium at the Tour de France on Sun­day for the third time in four years, strug­gling to rein in his emo­tions as Spain’s na­tional an­them echoed across the wide boule­vard of the Champ­sEl­y­sees.

Off to one side, Lance Arm­strong ap­plauded and then, with­out much

Green, black and yel­low

Sprinter’s ti­tle, Team Ra­dioShack’s uni­forms high­light fi­nal stage, C7 fan­fare, headed to­ward the exit.

“I need a cold beer,” he said when asked his thoughts at the fin­ish line.

Rarely has the emer­gence of a sport’s new­est su­per­star dove­tailed so neatly with the de­par­ture of the last one.

Con­ta­dor held off a next-to-last day chal­lenge from Andy Sch­leck of Lux­em­bourg, his run­ner-up for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year, drain-

Con­tin­ued from C1 ing much of the drama from the 20th and fi­nal stage. De­nis Men­chov of Rus­sia was third over­all.

Arm­strong com­pleted his last Tour in 23rd place, 39:20 be­hind Con­ta­dor, his for­mer team­mate and ri­val.

Yet the sport the 38-year-old Aus­ti­nite leaves be­hind hardly wants for bud­ding stars ea­ger to lead the way.

Sch­leck, for one, vows he’ll win the yel­low jersey one day. That prom­ise could pro­duce the next great Tour ri­valry, but this year, it wasn’t al­ways sport­ing.

The high-drama point in the race — and the low point in their avowed friend­ship — came in Stage 15.

Wear­ing the yel­low jersey, Sch­leck mounted an at­tack against Con­ta­dor on a Pyre­nean climb. Sud­denly, Sch­leck’s chain came un­done, and he ped­aled in vain. Con­ta­dor sped ahead, and by the stage fin­ish, had taken yel­low and 39 sec­onds on Sch­leck — his mar­gin Sec­ond-place Andy Sch­leck, left, who fin­ished with the best young rider’s white jersey, watches Al­berto Con­ta­dor cel­e­brate. of over­all vic­tory.

Many cy­cling afi­ciona­dos cried foul, say­ing Con­ta­dor had bro­ken the sport’s un­writ­ten eti­quette about not tak­ing ad­van­tage of un­lucky breaks a rider can’t con­trol — es­pe­cially when he was wear­ing yel­low.

Some fans jeered Con­ta­dor, and he later apol­o­gized. Sch­leck, who was fist-swat- ting an­gry at first, even­tu­ally patched things up with his ri­val and urged the crowd to as well.

By the time they wheeled into Paris for the fi­nale, the coro­na­tion trumped any lin­ger­ing con­tro­versy.

“I suf­fered to get this re­sult,” Con­ta­dor said. “I don’t have words to ex­press what I feel.”

Sch­leck pointed to Con­ta­dor’s yel­low shirt.

“This year, it didn’t work. I have a ren­dezvous in one year with that color there,” he said. “I am bet­ter than last year be­cause I cut down the deficit.”

Con­ta­dor, known as “El Pis­tolero” for his trade­mark fin­ger-fir­ing ges­ture, sipped cham­pagne dur­ing Sun­day’s leisurely ride and held up three fin­gers to sig­nal his third Tour win. He ex­changed hugs with his As­tana team­mates, who be­gan chant­ing “Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole” on the Champ­sEl­y­sees.

Con­ta­dor be­came only the sec­ond rider in the past 20 years of Tour his­tory to win the race with­out a sin­gle stage vic­tory.

The 27-year-old joins Greg LeMond, Loui­son Bo­bet and Philippe Thys as a three­time Tour cham­pion. His vic­tory added to Spain’s re­cent sports suc­cess — com­ing off its World Cup vic­tory, Rafael Nadal’s win at Wim­ble­don and Pau Ga­sol’s NBA ti­tle with the Lak­ers.

Christophe Ena

Three-time Tour de France win­ner Al­berto Con­ta­dor holds the Span­ish na­tional flag dur­ing a vic­tory lap with his As­tana team­mates.

Bas Czerwinski

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.