Tour de France leader Alberto Contador may not have won Stage 17, but he likely earned the overall Tour title with his performance today. As promised, 2nd place Tour cyclist Andy Schleck, who lost the yellow jersey Monday in a controversial bike chain malfunction, fought hard throughout the iconic slopes of the Tourmalet, but it’s almost certain that despite his stage win that it won’t be enough going into the time trial.
Schleck launched his attack with six miles to go and opened up a brief lead on Contador, but the two-time Tour Champion kept pace and was only about a bike length behind Schleck at the finish line.
However, Contador still holds an 8 second lead on the Luxembourg cyclist, which should allow him to claim his third Tour victory on Sunday in Paris. The two riders left the other competitors far behind, and clearly showed their supremacy to the cycling world. They completed the 174 kilometers (108.1 miles) from Pau to the peak of the Col du Tourmalet in 5 hours, 3 minutes, 29 seconds.
As it’s shaping up, Spanaird Alberto Contador’s time trial skills are almost guaranteed to give him the Tour win barring a crash.
Seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong didn’t mount much of an attack during Stage 17, and finished four minutes back for the stage.
Stage 17 promised a dramatic do-or-die battle on the slopes of the Tourmalet, and while Schleck didn’t bring the fireworks many were hoping for, two of cycling’s best fought valiantly proving they were light years ahead of their nearest competitors.
The last mountain stage closes out the ski areas featured in the Tour, but saving the Tourmalet for last was a pretty good way to go out for skiers. Check out this episode of Salomon Freeski TV where the skiers tackle the famed slopes of the cycling monument.