Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

UPDATE-Contador in yellow: does he have the Tour wrapped up?



Alberto Contador made his break as the Tour de France entered the Alps on Sunday and he may well have decided the race in his favour.

Contador’s thrilling escape asked a question Lance Armstrong could not answer and earned the Spaniard the yellow jersey, with a lead of more than a minute and a half over Armstrong. That’s not decisive, but it is now hard to see the Texan coming back and taking victory.

Does Contador now have the Tour won?

Here’s the view of our Tour reporter Julien Pretot:

That’s it. As expected, Alberto Contador showed his true colours in the ascent to Verbier, hammering his rivals in just over five kilometres.

Another Tour de France will start on Tuesday after a well deserved rest day for the peloton. Contador will just have to focus enough to stay out of trouble before the Mont Ventoux showdown, while Lance Armstrong, who looked his age on Sunday, will be out to increase his popularity in France.

Armstrong ahead of Contador…but only on our plane


Tarbes-Lourdes airport, Sunday, around 6pm.

Lance Armstrong is greeted by massive cheers as he enters the airport before boarding the plane taking the Tour de France riders to Limoges for their first rest day.

Alberto Contador signs a few autographs. Both riders did not exchange a look, let alone a word, in the bus that was taking them to the airport.

Contador attack signalled end of phoney war with Armstrong


Enough with the nagging mind games: that’s basically what Alberto Contador told Lance Armstrong when he moved ahead of the American with a brutal attack in the final ascent of the Tour de France seventh stage.

Since the Tour started, and even long before the peloton got to Monaco for the Grand Depart, Armstrong has been trying to unsettle Contador.

Contador proves his point to Armstrong, Astana



Alberto Contador made a point to Lance Armstrong and the rest of the Astana team with a thrilling break at the end of the seventh stage of the Tour de France on Friday.

it wasn’t quite enough to give him the yellow jersey — that honour went to Italy’s Rinaldo Nocentini  – but it took him up to second place, three seconds ahead of Armstrong in the General Classification.

Live blogging the Tour: Armstrong suffers agonising near miss


armstrongLance Armstrong was agonisingly close  to taking the yellow jersey for first time since his last Tour de France triumph in 2005.

Here’s how Julien Pretot, a member of our reporting team on the Tour, saw the 39-km team time trial in Montpellier as it happened.

Nervous Armstrong makes respectable Tour start


Lance Armstrong returned to his favourite stage four years after winning a record seventh consecutive Tour de France and set a respectable time in the opening time trial.

The 18th rider to set off in Monaco, Armstrong clocked 20 minutes 12 seconds for the 15.5-km course to briefly top the standings. He ended up in 10th spot behind Fabian Cancellara in the yellow jersey.

Moment of truth for Armstrong and Contador


rtr1j1aq2lanceafterIt is THE question the Tour de France caravan has been asking in the crowded restaurants of Monaco: Can the returning Lance Armstrong really live in peace and harmony with Alberto Contador, the 2007 winner and the American’s team leader?

Astana team director Johan Bruyneel says there is no rivalry whatsoever between the two riders before Saturday’s start.

Contador loses a race but wins vital support


dauphineLast week, Alberto Contador did not win the Dauphine Libere, a warm-up race for the Tour de France. He finished behind Alejandro Valverde and Cadel Evans and that you might think that would be a big worry with less than a month to go before the Tour starts on July 4 in Monaco.

But it is not.

Valverde’s pat on his back by the end of the last stage even showed it was all good news for the Spaniard.

Were cyclists right to make Giro protest?


The Giro d’Italia descended into farce on Sunday when riders decided the route through Milan was too dangerous…having already started the stage.

The results from the stage did not count towards the general classification and the riders all stopped at one point with race leader Danilo Di Luca trying to explain the decision to angry crowds after someone handed him a microphone.

Armstrong will struggle to make a real impact


It’s not Lance Armstrong’s first comeback, he has a natural ability to defy the odds, he is in the best possible squad.

That’s what we heard in September when the seven-times Tour de France winner said he was coming back to competitive racing.