Alberto Contador has moved closer to his second Tour de France victory in three years after finishing second to Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck in the gruelling 169.5km 17th stage of the race from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand. Contador, Schleck and the Saxo Bank rider’s younger brother Andy, broke clear of their rivals on the ascent of the Col de Romme, the third of four category one Alpine climbs on the day, to cross the line two minutes and 18 seconds clear of Italian Vincenzo Nibali and seven-times Tour winner Lance Armstrong. The result means Armstrong slips from second to fourth place overall as his Astana teammate Contador now leads Andy Schleck by two minutes and 26 seconds in the overall classification, with Frank Schleck a further 59 seconds back in third
Swiss Michael Albasini continued Team Columbia’s impressive start to the cycling season with victory in stage four of the Tour of the Basque Country on Thursday. Columbia have already taken a host of big races this season, including Edvald Boasson Hagen’s win at Ghent-Wevelgem and Mark Cavendish’s numerous sprint victories, including in the Milan-San Remo classic. And that run continued when Albasini beat three rivals in a sprint finish at the end of the 161km ride from Eibar to Guenes.
Levi Leipheimer remained on course to win his third successive Tour of California title after winning the 24km sixth stage individual time-trial at Solvang to extend his overall race lead.