Lance Armstrong looks to finish in third place as 2007 Tour winner Alberto Contador held on to the the yellow jacket in stage 20 of the Tour de France on Saturday.
The 20th stage was a 104-mile course that ended with a grueling 13-mile climb up Mont Ventoux, a barren mountaintop crowded with thousands of cheering cycling fans within arms’ reach of the competitors. (See video below)
Andy Schleck of Luxembourg finished the 20th stage in second place, rounding out the top three. Spaniard Juan Manuel Garate beat out German rider Tony Martin by three seconds to win the 20th stage, finishing at 4 hours, 39 minutes and 21 seconds.
The final stage is widely regarded as ceremonial, with no breakaways and only the possibility of a crash offering any real hope of a surprise finish. When asked about the almost certain third place finish, the 37-year-old 7-time Tour de France winner Armstrong said, “Hey, I can’t complain. … Coming out here and getting on the podium with these young guys, it’s not so bad.” And as a nod to leader, and Astana teammate Contador, Armstrong suggested that he might not have been able to beat him even in his prime. “He’s that good,” Armstrong says.
Here is video footage of the massive crowds encroaching on the riders during the final trek up Mont Ventoux:
For a cool flash summary of the Tour, check out ESPN’s Tour de France Tracker.