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Contador in yellow

July 25, 2010

The 2010 Tour de France finished on the Champs Elysees in Paris on Sunday. Spanish rider Alberto Contador took the yellow jersey as the overall winner of the race, while the great Lance Armstrong bowed out.

Alberto Contador, winner of the Tour de France
As is traditional, champion Contador enjoyed the acclaim on the final stageImage: AP

Alberto Contador won the 2010 Tour de France on Sunday, as the world's most prestigious bike race enjoyed its ceremonial last day on Paris' Champs Elysees.

British sprinter Mark Cavendish took the stage victory, his fifth of the Tour, as the riders finally hit top speed when they reached the French capital.

But all eyes were on Contador, as the battle for the yellow jersey for the overall race winner became a procession on the closing day. The 27-year-old Astana team rider finished in yellow for the third time, securing a fifth successive Tour victory for a Spaniard.

A memorable three-week duel between Contador and Saxo Bank team rider Andy Schleck took center stage on an eventful Tour. Luxembourger Schleck had to content himself with second place and the white jersey for the best young rider.

Chain controversy

The memory of Contador's triumph may be tainted by the way he grabbed the race lead in Monday's fifteenth stage in the Pyrenees mountains though. The chain slipped on Schleck's bike towards the end of the stage, and he was forced to stop to repair it. Contador broke Tour etiquette by taking the opportunity to attack, and gained a crucial 30 seconds' advantage. He was booed as he was presented with the yellow jersey after the stage, and later admitted he had made a mistake.

Mark Cavendish celebrates winning the final stage of the Tour de France
Mark Cavendish confirmed his status as the fastest man on two wheels on SundayImage: AP

"I've had difficult days, from a psychological and a physical point of view," Contador admitted from the top of the podium on Sunday. "I am happy, very happy."

The defining stages in the battle for yellow were always going to be Thursday's climb of the fierce Col du Tourmalet and the individual time trial on Saturday, though. Contador had enough on both occasions. He stuck to Schleck's wheel on Thursday, and extended his lead by half a minute two days later. After three weeks and close to 92 hours in the saddle, Schleck finished just 39 seconds behind his rival.

Armstrong makes his exit

Russian Denis Menchov rounded off the overall podium two minutes behind Contador. Frenchman Anthony Charteau confirmed himself in the polka-dot jersey for the best rider in the mountains when the Tour left the Pyrenees on Thursday. Italy's Alessandro Petacchi crossed the line second in Paris to claim the green jersey for picking up the most sprint points.

The Tour's most successful ever rider, seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, completed the race for the final time. The 38-year-old American retired for the first time in 2005, before returning to come third in 2009. After finishing 24th this year, he says he is out of the saddle for good.

The 2010 Tour began three weeks ago in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, and spent three days in the Netherlands and Belgium before reaching France. French riders enjoyed a hugely successful year, winning six of the race's 20 stages.

Author: Thomas Sheldrick (Reuters/dpa)
Editor: Andreas Illmer