Home Sports Decisive stage of Tour de France gets underway

Decisive stage of Tour de France gets underway


Cognac (France) : The 19th, and the next-to-last, stage of the 2007 Tour de France got underway Saturday in the city of Cognac, with the race championship hanging in the balance.

Since Sunday's final stage is generally a ceremonial parade down the Champs Elysees in Paris, the outcome of Saturday's 55.5-km time trial from Cognac to Angouleme will in effect decide if Alberto Contador of Spain or Australia's Cadel Evans will win the title.

Contador leads the Tour by 1:50 minutes, but Evans is the better time trial racer, having defeated the 24-year-old Spaniard the last two times they raced in the discipline.

In the first time trial of this year's Tour, Evans finished second, 1:04 ahead of Contador, on a course that favoured climbers like the Spaniard. Saturday's course is flatter and should benefit Evans.

Contador will be the last of the 141 riders left in the race to roll down the starting ramp, three minutes after Evans hits the course, so the two will be racing at the same time. It should make for an exciting sporting finish to an event that has been overshadowed by doping.