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Contador wins Tour's 18th stage

OVERALL leader Alberto Contador proved he was simply the best rider in the Tour de France by winning yesterday 40.5km individual time trial around the lake of Annecy.

The Spaniard, peerless in the mountains, was also the fastest of the peloton against the clock on the 18th stage with a time of 48 minutes 30 seconds.

The 2007 Tour champion beat Olympic gold medallist Fabian Cancellara by three seconds and Russia's Mikhail Ignatiev by 15.

The main disappointment of the day came from American Lance Armstrong, who started fast but was unable to maintain the pace and finished 16th in a stage which seemed to suit his qualities.

The seven-time champion's performance, 1:30 off the pace, was enough to oust Frank Schleck of Luxembourg from third spot overall.

Schleck's brother Andy limited the damage to retain his second place, 4:11 behind Contador.

Contador's teammate Armstrong was 5:25 adrift while Briton Bradley Wiggins was fourth, 5:36 off the pace and two seconds ahead of Germany's Andreas Kloeden.

Meanwhile, Armstrong will quit Astana and form a US-based team in 2010 in partnership with RadioShack Corporation, the company said in a statement yesterday.

"Lance Armstrong will compete for Team RadioShack as a cyclist, runner and triathlete in events around the world, including the 2010 Tour de France," the statement said.

"To be able to compete for an American team comprised of the world's top cyclists, supported by the best coaches and staff - I couldn't be happier to partner with RadioShack, a truly iconic American brand," Armstrong said.

RadioShack is a consumer electronics company based in Texas.

On Wednesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy also praised Armstrong after following Wednesday's 17th stage in the race's director car.


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