(Reuters) - Swiss Olympic champion Fabian Cancellara captured his first long time trial on Tour de France in the 19th stage on Saturday.
Saxo Bank time trial specialist Cancellara clocked a winning time of one hour 00 minute 56 seconds on the largely flat but wind-hit course between Bordeaux and Pauillac to push Germany's Tony Martin into second place.
Spanish defending champion Alberto Contador meanwhile reinforced his grip on the yellow jersey after beating main rival Andy Schleck, Cancellara's teammate, by 31 seconds in the time trial having started with just an eight-second advantage.
The Spaniard will now go into Sunday's final stage with a 39 second lead on the Luxemburger.
Stage 19 Results
1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank - 1:00:56
2 Tony Martin (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia - 0:00:17
3 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia - 0:01:48
4 Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Cervelo Test Team - 0:02:34
5 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Transitions - 0:03:00
6 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Rabobank - 0:03:03
7 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d'Epargne - 0:03:10
8 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank - 0:03:21
9 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team - 0:03:33
10 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team - 0:03:38
General classification after Stage 19
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana - 89:16:27
2 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank - 0:00:39
3 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank - 0:02:01
4 Samuel Sánchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi - 0:03:40
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto - 0:06:54
6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank - 0:09:31
7 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Transitions - 0:10:15
8 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha - 0:11:37
9 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo - 0:11:54
10 Christopher Horner (USA) Team Radioshack - 0:12:02
Full results here..
Links to news sites...
"Contador survives panic attack to extend Tour lead
Alberto Contador had a bad night and a bad day on the bike on Saturday but was still poised to win his third Tour de France despite a below-par performance.
The 27-year-old Spaniard increased his advantage to 39 seconds over Andy Schleck in the final time trial over 52 kms from Bordeaux and the Luxembourg rider will now have to be content with second place overall for the second year in a row.
"I had a bad night, I did not sleep well, I had stomach ache," Contador, who could not hold back his tears when he was given the yellow jersey on the podium, told a news conference.
Contador, one of only five men with titles in the Tour, the Giro d'Italia and the Spanish Vuelta, struggled to find the perfect position on his bike. He gasped for air more than usual as Schleck threatened his eight-second overall lead during the first part of Saturday's timed effort.
"To be honest, I got some information that Andy was five seconds behind and I started to panic," Contador said. "I thought 'oh my god, oh my god it's over'."
Contador's panic proved premature as Schleck eventually lost ground, gradually running out of energy and almost falling off his bike in exhaustion.
"This is such a relief, you cannot begin to imagine," said Contador." Read more from Yahoo Sports/Eurosports...
"Contador bests Schleck, remains in yellow
By: Hedwig Kröner
Alberto Contador (Astana) had trouble holding back his tears on the podium when the Spaniard was once again awarded the yellow jersey he is going to take to Paris tomorrow. In what was a truly memorable battle against the general classification runner-up Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), the Astana leader withstood the pressure and extended his overall lead over the Luxembourger to 39 seconds, sealing his third Tour de France victory.
"I'm very happy," Contador said as he came down from the podium. "It's an emotional moment. I think it's the first Tour to leave me so emotional. You can't imagine how much."
Contador's superiority not being as clear in the 2010 edition than previously, the 27-year-old Spaniard was relieved not to have failed. "There were a few days when I wasn't in my best form and that might be why I'm so emotional," he said. "Up to the last moment it was a very hard Tour."
Contador sealed his Tour victory with a 35th place on the stage, 5:43 down on stage winner Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), where one had expected the yellow jersey wearer to do better taking into account his otherwise excellent capabilities against the clock. Perhaps fatigue and psychological pressure made Contador just a tad less competitive than in 2009 where he had won two stages, including the final time trial - which just proves the strain Schleck put on the multiple Grand Tour winner." Read more from Cyclingnews.com...
"Time trial adds another chapter to rivalry
By Bonnie D. Ford
PAUILLAC, France -- For the first third of Saturday's decisive Tour de France time trial, the invisible rubber band that seemed to connect Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck at their slender hips didn't stretch much at all. Then, suddenly, it began to contract, and for a few brief moments, Schleck, three minutes ahead of Contador on the course, stunningly slingshotted a few seconds ahead of him in cumulative time.
It wasn't supposed to be that close. That's what Contador had counted on after he was unable or unwilling to risk extricating himself from Schleck's slipstream on the climb of the Col du Tourmalet last Thursday and conceded the stage win to Schleck after hanging on his wheel all the way up the mountain.
The time trial was supposed to provide a cushion, not erode Contador's eyebrow-thin, eight-second lead over Schleck. But Contador's stomach churned the night before the time trial, and he slept poorly. While Schleck powered through the first half of the course, Contador looked fidgety and ill at ease in the saddle." Read more from ESPN...