Leipheimer wins Vuelta time trial; Contador keeps overall lead

Updated: September 20, 2008, 2:54 PM ET
Associated Press

ALTO DE NAVACERRADA, Spain -- Levi Leipheimer won the 20th stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Saturday to trim Astana teammate Alberto Contador's overall lead with one day remaining.

[+] EnlargeAlberto Contador
Getty ImagesAlberto Contador was second in Saturday's 20th stage, 31 seconds slower than winner Levi Leipheimer.

The 34-year-old Leipheimer finished the 10.5-mile time trial up the difficult Alto de Navacerrada climb in 33 minutes, 6 seconds. Contador was second, 31 seconds slower, and now leads his American teammate by 46 seconds.

"It was important to maintain the overall lead," Contador said. "Now, I just want to rest a bit and savor the moment."

With Sunday's final stage traditionally a processional in which the overall standings don't change, the Spaniard's lead is likely enough for him to add the Vuelta title to his victories at the Giro d'Italia earlier this year and at the Tour de France in 2007.

That would give Contador a rare sweep of cycling's three major races, equaling the feat of former greats Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi and Bernard Hinault. A Vuelta win would give Contador all three titles within 15 months, besting Hinault's previous record of 26 months.

Alejandro Valverde of Spain finished third in the stage in the same time as Contador.

Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre of Spain, riding for Team CSC, finished fourth in the stage and is third overall 4:12 off the pace.

"I wanted to secure third place, but it was difficult, which is all you know when you are out there fighting," said Sastre, who finished 1:02 behind Leipheimer. "But I did it. It was very important for me and I will be very happy to be on the podium in Madrid."

The race ends Sunday with a 63.5-mile ride from San Sebastian de los Reyes north of Madrid to the finish down the central Castellana boulevard.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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