CONTADOR KING OF VERBIER

Astana’s Alberto Contador won the day and the maillot jaune on Sunday, riding away from a small group of favorites on the final climb in stage 15 of the Tour de France.

Contador used the Category 1 climb to Verbier to settle accounts with teammate Lance Armstrong and the rest of his rivals for the overall victory, rocketing away to win by more than 40 seconds over Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck, who collected the white jersey for the best young rider in the process. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) finished third.

“It wasn’t a long climb, but we started it really fast and in the end I managed to do what I wanted to make the difference,” said Contador. “If I wanted to leave my rivals behind me in the standings, that was the only way I could do it.”

Armstrong was far from vanquished, however — with the help of Andreas Klöden he hung on to finish ninth on the day, 1:35 behind Contador, and moved back into second place overall at 1:37. Garmin-Slipstream’s Bradley Wiggins now sits third at 1:46 with Klöden fourth at 2:17, meaning Astana holds three of the top five spots on GC.

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