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Weary Contador gears for final push

At Montpellier, France

Overall standings

 (After 15 stages)

 1. Thomas Voeckler, France, Europcar, 65 hours, 24 minutes, 34 seconds

 2. Frank Schleck, Luxembourg, Leopard-Trek, 1:49

 3. Cadel Evans, Australia, BMC, 2:06

 4. Andy Schleck, Luxembourg, Leopard-Trek, 2:15

 5. Ivan Basso, Italy, Liquigas-Cannondale, 3:16

 6. Samuel Sanchez, Spain, Euskaltel-Euskadi, 3:44

 7. Alberto Contador, Spain, Saxo Bank Sungard, 4:00

 8. Damiano Cunego, Italy, Lampre-ISD, 4:01

 9. Tom Danielson, United States, Garmin-Cervelo, 5:46

10. Kevin De Weert, Belgium, Quick Step, 6:18

PIOULENC, France — Alberto Contador knows he is running out of time, and stages, to close the gap on his Tour de France rivals.

The Spaniard's bid for a fourth Tour title has yet to get going as the race enters its final week, a combination of bad luck and a nagging knee injury making it difficult for him to launch his trademark attacks in the mountains.

"This is probably the hardest Tour I've done. I have lost a lot of strength since the beginning," Contador said Monday, a rest day. "It's true that without the time loss from the first stage I would be in a good position to win the Tour and (just) waiting for the last time trial."

Contador must claw back from a four-minute deficit on race leader Thomas Voeckler. After 15 of 21 stages, seventh-place Contador trails Frank Schleck by 2:11, Evans by 1:54, Andy Schleck by 1:45 and Ivan Basso by 44 seconds.

Contador and his Saxo Bank team have to be aggressive in the climbs of the Alps this week.

The 17th stage Wednesday from Gap to Pinerolo won't be as testing as excruciating climbs Thursday and Friday, followed by a 26-mile time trial Saturday.

Stages 18 and 19 feature enormous treks up Col du Galibier, Col d'Izoard and L'Alpe d'Huez.

"Some riders will suffer from that," said Contador, 28. "But we need to attack, that's for sure."

armstrong update: Attorneys for Lance Armstrong say illegal government leaks of grand jury information have sullied the seven-time Tour de France winner's reputation and have asked a court to order federal agents to discuss their contacts with the media. A grand jury is looking at whether Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs.

.Fast facts

Tour de France

Yellow jersey: France's Thomas Voeckler leads Luxembourg's Frank Schleck by 1 minute, 49 seconds.

Monday: Rest day before heading to Alps' foothills.

Today: Stage 16, a 101-mile ride from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Gap.

TV: 8 a.m., Versus

Weary Contador gears for final push 07/18/11 [Last modified: Monday, July 18, 2011 8:58pm]
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