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ARMSTRONG FINISHES THIRD

With the Arc de Triomphe in the distance and a sea of fans along the roadside, Lance Armstrong stood on the podium at the Tour de France on Sunday, two spots below what he was used to.

Alberto Contador listened to the national anthem of Spain on the podium next to Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, left, and Lance Armstrong, right.

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CONTADOR ON FOR SECOND TOUR

Juan Manuel Garate took the stage win atop the mythic Mont Ventoux today. The Spanish climber out-sprinted Tony Martin of Columbia-HTC after the two attacked from the early breakaway. Garate’s win gave his Rabobank team their first victory in this Tour de France after three weeks of frustration and near-misses.

Garate and Martin benefited from the tactical maneuverings among the general classification favorites, who remained locked together. Alberto Contador defended his Yellow Jersey and tomorrow will celebrate his second ever Tour de France victory.

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ALBERTO ADDS TIME

Alberto Contador lit up the roads around Annecy today and took his second stage win in this year’s Tour de France. The 2007 Tour de France winner also added to his lead in the general classification, and now holds an advantage of 4:11 over second placed Andy Schleck of Saxo Bank.

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CONTADOR RIDES AWAY

Alberto Contador rode away from the field today on the final climb to Verbier. The Spanish climber, who won the 2007 Tour de France, won the stage and took over the race lead.

His team-mate American Lance Armstrong suffered on the climb, but still holds second in the general classification. Bradley Wiggins of Garmin-Slipstream now sits third 1:46 behind Alberto Contador.

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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.

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HINCAPIE 5 SECONDS LATE

Katusha’s Sergei Ivanov won Saturday’s stage 14, a mostly flat transition stage from Friday’s day in the mountainous Verges region and Sunday’s first day in the Alps, ahead of Robbie McEwen.

Ivanov attacked his 11 breakaway companions in the final 11 kilometers and used his time trial skills to roll away to an impressive win.

His breakaway companion George Hincapie almost snagged the yellow jersey from Rinaldo Nocentini, finishing just five seconds too late to take the lead.

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LEIPHEIMER CRASHES OUT

Levi Leipheimer has been forced to abandon the Tour de France after breaking his wrist in a crash on stage 12 of the race on Thursday.

Cyclingnews spoke to an Astana's press officer, Phillipe Maertens, who confirmed that Leipheimer would not start stage 13 on Friday.

"He wasn't too bad last night but this morning, the pain was too much," he said. We took him to the hospital in Vittel, where scans revealed a transversal fracture of the scaphoid bone of the wrist. He is still in hospital now. He will certainly want to go home as soon as possible, but we haven't organised a flight yet."

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CAV WINS AGAIN

Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) won a leisurely, radio-free 10th stage of Tour de France on Tuesday.

It was Bastille Day, and a breakaway full of Frenchmen declared independence early on, but the home crowd would have no reason to celebrate the finale — with a little help from George Hincapie and Mark Renshaw, Cavendish won yet another drag race to the line ahead of green jersey Alessandro Petacchi(Cervélo TestTeam) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream).

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NOCENTINI WINS YELLOW

Brice Feillu of Agritubel took his first ever Tour de France stage win high on the summit of Arcalís. The young French rider, in his first year as a professional, escaped with the early breakaway and survived to celebrate victory at the finish.

Rinaldo Nocentini of AG2R-La Mondiale, who also rode the break today, takes over the Yellow Jersey of race leader by a slim margin over Alberto Contador. The Spanish climber leapfrogged his team mate Lance Armstrong in the general classification and is now 2 seconds ahead of the American.

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CAVENDISH WINS SECOND RACE

Team Columbia-HTC once again showed its strength in this Tour de France, this time turning the screws in the crosswinds of the Camargue and riding away with the race. After a perfect lead-out from Mark Renshaw, Mark Cavendish won his second straight stage win over the small group who survived the Columbia whirlwind.

Cavendish also added to his advantage in the points classification, which he now leads by a solid margin over Thor Hushovd of Cervélo TestTeam, who finished second today.

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