23 Jul 2010

Contador holds advantage as Tour leaves mountains

5:58 am on 23 July 2010

Luxembourg's Andy Schleck has won the 17th stage of the Tour de France cycle race but failed to take the overall lead from Spanish rival Alberto Contador on the final day in the mountains.

Schleck began the final climbing stage of this year's race, a 174km ride from Pau to the Col du Tourmalet, with an eight-second deficit to Spain's two-time winner in the race for the yellow jersey.

Despite repeated attempts to shake Contador off his wheel during the final 10km of the 18.6km slog to the fog-shrouded summit Schleck finished with Contador on his wheel at the finish line.

It means Astana team leader Contador will retain his lead over the Saxo Bank climbing specialist ahead of Friday's 18th stage, which is likely to finish in a bunch sprint.

Schleck's last chance to overhaul Contador would be in Saturday's penultimate stage time trial over a 52km-long flat course, a discipline in which the Spaniard has a far better record.

It is the second stage win of the race for Schleck, who also won the stage to Morzine-Avoriaz in the Alps.