Tour de France 2009 stage 20 photo gallery by Graham Watson 

Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) is set to equal the best-ever British result in the Tour de France after a determined ride on the slopes of Mont Ventoux.

Wiggins responded to the early attacks but had to dig deep in the final two kilometres to defend his fourth place as the leaders largely marked each other behind stage winner Juan Manuel Garate (Rabobank).

Wiggins lost contact several times in the last four kilometres as Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) constantly attacked, but each time the Brit fought to get back on and then limited his losses in the final few hundred metres.

Riding with a picture of Tom Simpson on his bike, Wiggins finished 20 seconds behind Frank Schleck, his biggest threat for fourth place overall, and that was enough to equal Robert Millar’s result of fourth in the 1984 Tour de France

Alberto Contador (Astana) will ride into Paris as the winner of the Tour de France, with Andy Schleck second at 4-11 and Lance Armstrong (Astana) third at 5-24. Wiggins is fourth at 6-01.

Wiggins had said that the thought of Tommy Simpson watching over him would inspire him on Mont Ventoux. No doubt Simpson would have been proud of how Wiggins performed all the way through this year’s Tour de France.

Starting the day just fifteen seconds behind Armstrong in third place, the podium had been a possibility. Wiggins and the Texan shadowed each other all the way to Chalet Reynard, five kilometres from the top, but it was Armstrong who looked the stronger today. At the age of 37, Armstrong may not have been able to attack his younger rivals, but he could cling on to their rear wheels and get dragged to the top.

Armstrong is now likely to finish his career without ever winning on Mont Ventoux, but all he had to do today was keep Wiggins and Schleck with him to hold on to his third place.

Contador celebrates early

Alberto Contador punched the air in celebration after crossing the line in the shadows of the Mont Ventoux antenna.

He has fought against psychological mind games from his team mate Lance Armstrong as much as the attacks from his rivals. Yet proved again and again that he is best stage race rider of his generation.

On the slopes of Ventoux, Contador concentrated on marking Andy Schleck. He could perhaps have won the stage but is happy to have won the yellow jersey for a second time.

“It’s a great day for me. What a way to finish the Tour, with the climb of the Ventoux,” he said after emotionally celebrating on the podium.

“My legs were great today. It looked difficult out there but I managed to stay with the Schlecks. I knew I had to control Andy and respond to his attacks. I was also trying to look after Lance if he needed my help. Frank didn’t seem so strong and so Lance got his podium.”

Garate holds off contenders to win stage

Spain’s Juan Manual Garate (Rabobank) won the stage, beating Germany’s Tony Martin (Columbia) after the two managed to hold off the overall contenders. They were part of the early break and took advantage as the other riders raced tactically for a place on the podium.

Polka-dot jersey winner Franco Pelizzotti (Liquigas) tried to go across to them but a strong wind blew him back. Garate let Martin do most of the work and then jumped away inside the final kilometre. Martin got back up to him but the experienced Spaniard went again to win the stage by three seconds.

Garate claimed he’d dreamt about winning the stage last night and completed a great day for Spanish cycling.

Andy Schleck finished third at 38 seconds and was clearly the strongest along with Contador. He was desperate to get his brother on the podium in Paris and attacked several times in the hope that Frank could come across and they could ride together to the finish. Andy probably sacrificed his chances of winning the stage to help his brother but their strategy did not work.

Frank moved past Andreas Kloden (Astana) but Armstrong and Wiggins held onto third and fourth places.

Now, with the real racing done, it’s time to catch the TGV to Paris on Sunday morning and celebrate with the final stage to the Champs Elysees.

With Wiggins fourth overall and Cavendish likely to win his sixth stage in this year’s race, it has been Britain’s best ever Tour de France.

Cavendish and Hushovd make up?

Mark Cavendish and sprint rival Thor Hushovd crossed the line together on Ventoux. The two riders have been locked in war for the green jersey over the past three weeks. It’s been a battle of words, as much as a battle on the road but the two now appear to have settled their differences.

Both riders will be looking for one last stage win in Paris tomorrow, but unless Cavendish wins and Hushovd finishes way down the results, the green jersey will belong to the Norwegian.

Results

Stage 20: Montelimar–Mont Ventoux, 167km

1. Juan Manuel Garate (
Spa) Rabobank in 4-39-21

2. Tony Martin (Ger) Columbia-HTC at 3secs

3. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 38secs

4. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana at same time

5. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 41secs

6. Frank Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 43secs

7. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas at 46secs

8. Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas at 56secs

9. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 58secs

10. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 1-03

Overall classification after stage 20

1. Alberto Contador (Spa) Astana in 81-46-17

2. Andy Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 4-11

3. Lance Armstrong (USA) Astana at 5-24

4. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 6-01

5. Frank Schleck (Lux) Saxo Bank at 6-04

6. Andreas Kloden (Ger) Astana at 6-42

7. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas at 7-35

8. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 12-04

9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas at 14-16

10. Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Francaise des Jeux at 14-25

 Juan Manuel Garate, Tour de France 2009, stage 20

Juan Manuel Garate takes the win on top of Mont Ventoux

Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France 2009, stage 20

True grit: Bradley Wiggins put in a fantastic ride to come tenth on the stage and retain his fourth place overall

Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador, Lance Armstrong, Tour de France 2009, stage 20

Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong on Ventoux

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 LINKS

Tour de France 2009 – the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.

STAGE REPORTS

Stage 19: Five star Cavendish wins Tour stage in to Aubenas

Stage 18: Contador tightens grip on the maillot jaune

Stage 17: Schleck brothers overhaul Wiggins as Frank wins the stage

Stage 16: Astarloza snatches Alps stage win as contenders wind up the pace

Stage 15: Contador wins in Verbier as Tour explodes into life

Stage 14: Ivanov wins as Nocentini clings onto yellow

Stage 13: Haussler braves rain for victory in Colmar


Stage 12: Sorensen wins in Vittel as Cavendish goes for green

Stage 11: Cavendish takes fourth win to equal Hoban’s record

Stage 10: Cavendish spoils Bastille Day party to take third stage win

Stage nine: Third French win as contenders content with ceasefire

stage eight: Sanchez wins from break as Tour favourites cancel each other out


Stage seven: Feillu wins at Arcalis, Nocentini takes yellow, Contador leap-frogs Lance

Stage six: Millar’s brave bid denied on Barcelona hill as Hushovd triumphs

Stage five: Voeckler survives chase to win his first Tour stage

Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second

Live Tour de France stage four TTT coverage

Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador

Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint

Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial

LATEST TOUR NEWS

Tour de France 2009 News Index>>

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Radio Shack confirmed as Armstrong’s new backer

Astana to split after Tour

Voigt crashes out of Tour

Armstrong fighting hard for Tour podium place

Wiggins gets closer to Tour podium place

Who’s won what so far in the Tour de France

How the Tour favourite are doing (Rest day 2)

Wiggins climbs to third in Tour overall

Armstrong concedes he can’t win the 2009 Tour

Tom Boonen quits the Tour de France

Stage 15 analysis: Is the Tour now over?

Columbia criticise Garmin for chasing Hincapie

Cavendish reveals he is going for green

EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS

Mont Ventoux preview

Garmin-Slipstream’s HQ before the Tour

David Zabriskie’s time trial bike

Mark Cavendish on the Tour’s team time trial

David Brailsford interview

Mark Cavendish on the Tour

Jonathan Vaughters on Bradley Wiggins’ chances

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 PHOTOS

Stage 20 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 19 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 18 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 17 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 16 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 15 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 14 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 13 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 12 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage four TTT photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson

Stage one photo gallery by Andy Jones

Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson

Team presentation by Andy Jones

Team presentation by Graham Watson

TOUR GUIDE

Tour de France 2009 – the hub

Tour de France 2009: Who’s riding

Tour de France 2009: Team guide

About the Tour de France

FEATURES

Tour de France 2009: Who will win?

Tour de France 2009 on TV: Eurosport and ITV4 schedules

Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France

Tour de France anti-doping measures explained

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish

Cycling Weekly’s rider profiles

TWITTER

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  • hellyhansen

    You’ve got a typo there at the end – Cav likely to win his 6th, not 4th

  • James Cockburn

    It has been a pleasure to watch this year’s Tour especially Bradley. Brilliant!

  • contafan

    yeah-preferably a 20 minute split. lol
    fantastic ride wiggo.

    you did it conta-chappeau!

    a winner off the bike as well…….

  • SJS

    Great stuff Brad, you deserve a split in the bunch tomorrow….with Armstrong on the downside of it.