Saxo-Tinkoff slipped away from the Tour de France’s podium during the final test today. Two-time race winner Alberto Contador lost second overall and fell to fourth on the Annecy-Semnoz summit finish, one day before the race ends in Paris.

“When one gives everything they have, that’s it… I could not be at 100 per cent,” the Spaniard told media at the finish line. “One must congratulate those who have been able to ride away.”

Contador and team-mate Roman Kreuziger cracked between nine and eight kilometres to race. Joaquím Rodríguez (Katusha) attacked, and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Chris Froome (Sky) followed.

Froome secured his race lead ahead of tomorrow’s flat stage into Paris by finishing third. Quintana won the stage, the white jersey of young rider and took over the polka-dot jersey. Rodríguez placed third.

Contador started the stage at 5-11 minutes back, but now sits in fourth at 7-10. He crossed the line over two minutes after Quintana and Rodríguez, who jumped up to second and third overall.

The places and jerseys – including green for Peter Sagan (Cannondale) – will likely stay the same with sprint finish predicted in Paris tomorrow.

The fourth place is a blow for Contador, who won the Vuelta a España last year. However, since losing his third Tour title to a doping positive and serving a related ban, he has lacked firepower.

Saxo-Tinkoff continued to defend Contador throughout the doping ban and comeback. In the Tour, instead of switching gears to Kreuziger, it rode for Contador. When it came to the mountains, however, they were underpowered.

“Of course, we’re disappointed to be thrown off the podium on this final and crucial mountain stage of the Tour,” Sports Director Fabrizio Guidi said in a press release. “[It] is a bitter pill to swallow.”

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  • Duncan White

    Alberto did very well, in my eyes, considering there is clearly something sapping his endurance.
    This takes no shine off of Froome’s performance, either. Contador was quite the gentleman in both congratulating Froome and defending him outright against sleazy reporter questions on doping.

    If bet Alberto clears up his health, and wins the tour over Froome in 2014 and 2015 before retiring.
    Betcha.

  • Drew Jackson

    Alberto did his best and it was a good effort. However, I would not be surprise some of those guys are on stuff. You know the stuff that makes you feel no pain. Just my two cents on this year tour.

  • Morgan

    Assuming he is now “clean”, we’re seeing his true ability. However, I wonder if the boos heard were more for his actions in the ’10 tour when Schleck had his mechanical.

  • Robert

    A great performance from Quintana. Best of all, his second place in the Tour is much like what we used to see in the pre-Epo era. That is, a young rider showing well in the Tour the very first time they ride it, rather than suddenly coming to the fore after years of showing no sign whatsoever of ever getting in the top 20, never mind winning the race. Quintana seems to have true natural talent of the kind that was also shown by the likes of Fignon, Lemond and Merckx, to be contrasted with the fabricated, ‘donkeys into racehorses’ talents of the likes of Armstrong, Riis and others.

  • stepho

    Contador now looks what he is, a very good cyclist who can challenge on good days but doesn’t have the consistent firepower to maintain it. His behaviour still reveals an inflated ego out of scale with his ability which stems from his previous (suspect) achievements. Saxo rode a good race and tried their best and I think deserve credit for their efforts but they were beaten by better teams and a superb winner in Chris Froome.