19th July 2009
The Spaniard won the race to Verbier in amazing style. PlanetSKI watched the race and he looked majestic. Armstrong was a way behind after the 8.5 km mountain climb. We reckon Contador has all but won it.
The tour is lost and won in the mountain stages and this weekend Contador won it emphatically.
We waited on the final attacking hairpin bend of the mountain stage unsure who would be in front.
A lone cyclist appeared and it was the Spaniard.
He began the day in third place overall, 6 seconds behind Italian rider Rinaldo Nocentini. Armstrong began it in fourth, 8 seconds back.
The 26-year-old Spaniard broke away with 3.5 miles left in the 128.9-mile ride from Pontarlier, France to the Swiss ski resort of Verbier.
He kept extending his lead to the finish as he thundered up the mountain road.
“I’m very happy with this result. The climb wasn’t that long, but I wanted to make a difference,” said Contador, who looked fresh and tapped his chest as he finished. “I gave the maximum.”Armstrong’s rivalry with Contador, on ice during last week’s mostly flat stages, was set to re-ignite in Verbier.
Contador said Sunday’s result left no doubt about who should be considered the Astana team leader.
“The differences now are pretty big, and the team’s bet should now be me, no?” Contador said. “I’m sure my team mates are going to put in great work to back me up, just like they did today.”
Armstrong conceded that Contador had been superior.
Bradley Wiggins of Britain climbed from sixth place to third, 1:46 adrift of the Spaniard. “Fantastic, it’s really fantastic, I don’t know what to say, I just do what I do and it worked,” Wiggins said just after he crossed the finishing line.
Armstrong finally finished ninth, 1min 35sec behind Contador.
The ride up to Verbier was an historical moment in the cycling world. Armstrong has had 7 straight Tour wins and, despite his past 3 years in retirement, this was the first time since 1999 that he had failed to dominate the race in the mountains.
See the video below of Contador powering to victory as he enters Verbier.
Later today we’ll bring you a full round up and news of the 15th stage to Verbier and what hosting the event means for the ski resort, with all the behind the scenes action and gossip.
The race is great, but the atmospere is even better!