Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fantastic finish? Tour comes down to a sprint

New overall leader Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, left, and Alberto Contador of Spain climb Galibier pass during Stage 19.

Associated Press

New overall leader Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, left, and Alberto Contador of Spain climb Galibier pass during Stage 19.

ALPE D'HUEZ, France — After 2,105 miles and nearly three weeks of racing, through three steep climbs into the Alps, the Tour de France will be decided today in a 26.4-mile sprint through Grenoble. This is like deciding a marathon with a 100-meter dash.

The potentially dramatic situation emerged Friday when, in the final mountain stage of the Tour, Luxembourg's Andy Schleck secured the overall leader's yellow jersey. Unlike the previous two Tours, he won't enter the penultimate and decisive stage behind Spain's Alberto Contador. But Australia's Cadel Evans lurks close, 57 seconds out, and is considered a superior time trialist.

One by one, in reverse order of the standings, riders will set out today in an individual time trial, the ultimate race against the clock. Their teammates will not be around to pull them along, as they dutifully did through ascents in the Pyrenees and the Alps.

Whoever stands on top after today will be sipping champagne Sunday during the final stage, a ceremonial ride into Paris.

"I couldn't have told a writer to create a better Tour de France," Schleck said. "It's all there — the suspense is perfect."

Much of the suspense lies in the Schleck-Evans showdown. Can Schleck, not a strong time trialist, make his lead stand up?

If Schleck felt he failed to properly widen his gap over Evans, he didn't show it after Stage 19. As he pulled on the yellow jersey, he kissed a stuffed animal, then told reporters: "My motivation is super. My legs are good. The condition is there. So I'm confident I can keep this into Paris."

France's Thomas Voeckler, who had been the leader from Stage 9 until Friday, did what he had predicted for a week: drop in the standings, into fourth. Schleck's brother Frank retained his hold on second.

.Fast facts

Tour de France

Friday: Stage 19, a 68-mile trek took the riders back over the Galibier pass and ended at the Alpe d'Huez. France's Pierre Rolland took both the stage victory and the white jersey of best young rider.

Yellow jersey: France's Thomas Voeckler finally ceded the lead to Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, who leads his brother Frank by 53 seconds. Australia's Cadel Evans (considered a top time trialist) is third, 57 seconds back. Voeckler dropped to fourth.

Today: The penultimate 20th stage is a 26.4-mile time trial starting and ending in the Alpine city of Grenoble.

TV: 8 a.m., Versus

Fantastic finish? Tour comes down to a sprint 07/22/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2011 9:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What we've learned from the Bucs' and Bills' playoff droughts


    Is it possible for the Buccaneers and Bills to be any farther off the NFL's radar? You get the feeling schedule-makers didn't think twice about putting this one down for 1 p.m. Sunday — the let's-hope-no-one-notices time slot.

    [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. College football game-day guide, Week 8


    Derwin vs. Lamar

    Florida State Seminoles defensive back Derwin James (3) breaks up the pass intended for Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Ahmmon Richards (82) in the third quarter of the game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Miami Hurricanes at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. The Miami Hurricanes beat the Florida State Seminoles 24-20.
  3. Sorry, Nebraska, Scott Frost appears interested in staying at UCF

    Scott Frost has UCF undefeated with an important game at Navy next. [Getty Images]
  4. Tampa Bay Downs full of high-paying races this season


    OLDSMAR — Tampa Bay Downs is green like never before.