23 Jul 2009

Contador extends lead on fifth to last stage of Tour

8:38 am on 23 July 2009

Spain's 2007 champion Alberto Contador tightened his grip on the Tour de France overnight as the field waved goodbye to the Alps.

Luxemburg's Schleck brothers Frank and Andy tried their best to shake the peloton on the final alpine stage, but they couldn't topple Contador who split them across the finish line, and extended his overall lead.

The Schlecks moved up the overall standings to drop Britain's Bradley Wiggins off the virtual podium, one of the reasons why Contador apparently chose not to dispute the stage win.

Contador now leads Andy Schleck by 2min 26sec overall, with Frank Schleck moving up to third at 3:25 behind the Spaniard.

Lance Armstrong meanwhile kept his promise to support teammate Contador's cause, staying behind to mark potential rivals when the Spaniard counter-attacked the Schlecks.

The 37-year-old American dropped to fourth overall at 3:55 behind Contador whose lead looks comfortable going into tonight's individual time trial stage.