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Time trial takes on new importance

Updated: July 23, 2009, 1:22 AM ET
By Bonnie D. Ford | ESPN.com

LE GRAND BORNAND, France -- Before this Tour de France began, there was a consensus that the race podium would be decided Saturday in the wailing wind and heat on the way up to the great, bald dome of Mont Ventoux. The final individual time trial, moved to a Thursday time slot like a television show lagging in the ratings, seemed reduced in importance.

Not so fast. Wednesday's grueling and fascinating Stage 17 action -- a queen stage without a crown, so to speak, as the peloton traversed ...

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