July 23, 2009

Contador builds lead with time trial win

Alberto Contador, the final rider of the day, won Thursday's time trial stage at the Tour de France and extended his overall lead.

Contador finished second to Frank Cancellara in the time trial that opened this year's Tour de France and Thursday Cancellara, starting well before Contador, posted a time that held up through most of the day.

But Contador established his intention early in the 24.3-mile loop around Lake Annecy in the French Alps, averaging nearly 33 miles an hour over the first 11 miles and 17 miles in was still running at a 28 mph clip. At the fourth checkpoint, his time was 15 seconds better than any other riders'.

He finished in 48 minutes, 30 seconds, edging Cancellara by 3 seconds and third-place finisher Mikhail Ignatiev by 15 seconds.

The results pushed Contador's overall standings lead to 4:11 over Andy Schleck, who was 21st in Thursday's stage, while Lance Armstrong, 16th in the stage, moved up to third overall and is 5:25 back of Contador.

There are three stages remaining in the 96th Tour de France. Friday's 106.8-mile route includes a Category 2 climb just ahead of the finish line in Aubenas in southern France.