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(Reuters) - Spaniard Alberto Contador claimed his third Tour de France title on Sunday as seven-times champion Lance Armstrong made his final exit from the race.

The 27-year-old Contador stayed safe in the main bunch and the last stage, over 102.5 km from Longjumeau, went to Briton Mark Cavendish for the second year in a row.

Over three weeks, Contador showed some weaknesses in the mountains and almost cracked in the final time trial but it was enough for him to beat Luxembourg's Andy Schleck by 39 seconds. Russian Denis Menchov took third place, 2:01 off the pace.

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Stage 20 Results
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC - Columbia - 2:42:21
2 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
3 Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - Transitions
4 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
5 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
6 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram
7 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team
8 Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank
9 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha
10 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo



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Final General classification
1 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Astana - 91:58:48
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..


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Jersey Standings:
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Alberto Contador
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Alessandro Petacchi
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Anthony Charteau
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Andy Schleck

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Links to news sites...

"Cav wins, Contador makes it three

Record-breaking Mark Cavendish won the showpiece final stage on the Champs Elysees as Alberto Contador became a triple Tour de France winner.

HTC-Columbia's Cavendish beat Julian Dean (Garmin-Transitions) and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) with an emphatic dash to the line to become the first rider in Tour history to win successive stages on the Champs Elysees.

It was the Briton's fifth stage victory on this year's race - but not enough to move ahead of Petacchi at the top of the green jersey standings.

Spaniard Contador (Astana) finished safely in the pack to secure a second successive Tour victory - the third of his career.

Contador, 27, beat rival Andy Schleck of Luxembourg by 39 seconds while Russia's Denis Menchov completed the podium in third position, 2:01 off the pace, after the gruelling three-week race." Read more from Yahoo Sports/Eurosports...

"Contador claims third Tour de France title as Cavendish wins finale
(CNN) -- Alberto Contador was crowned Tour de France champion for the third time on Sunday as Mark Cavendish won the final stage of cycling's premier event, which was delayed after seven-time winner Lance Armstrong's team were ordered to change their jerseys.

Contador had the customary winner's cruise into the Champs-Elysees in Paris, having taken a 39-second lead over
Andy Schleck in what is the traditionally decisive penultimate stage on Saturday.

He was 81st in a 161-strong peloton behind Cavendish -- all credited with the same time of two hours, 42 minutes and 21 seconds -- with Armstrong 106th as he completed his final Tour in 23rd overall.

The 38-year-old finished more than 39 minutes behind Contador, his teammate at Astana last year, after suffering from crashes early on in the grueling 21-stage race." Read more from CNN...

"Contador puts his stamp on third victory
By JAMEY KEATEN

PAUILLAC, France - Wiping away tears, Alberto Contador is ready for the champagne to flow.

After three daunting weeks of crashes, biting cold, fog and searing heat, he is set to become the Tour de France champion again.

The Spaniard all but captured his third title in four years yesterday by holding off a full-bore challenge from his main rival, Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, in a 32-mile individual time trial in the next-to-last stage.

"I am very moved It was a difficult Tour, and I'm very happy," a tearful Contador said.

Contador wasn't in top form, but he did what he had to do. He extended his lead over Schleck from eight seconds to 39 in a stage won by Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland.

Now, Contador surely gets to wear yellow on the Champs-Elysees. As the unquestioned leader of his sport at 27 years old, he is on track to challenge Lance Armstrong's record of seven Tour wins.

Barring a wild turn of events, Contador awaits a coronation in the final stage - a 64-mile ride from Longjumeau to the famed Paris thoroughfare.

He acknowledged that this wasn't his best Tour." Read more from the AP...