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2 DE FRANCE; THE TOUR DE FRANCE 2009.

Byline: Ted Tracey

SUPER Spaniard Alberto Contador landed his second Tour de France crown yesterday - then revealed the key to glory was winning his power struggle with team-mate Lance Armstrong.

Contador, 26, came through the final dash to the Champs Elysees in Paris unscathed as British ace Mark Cavendish claimed his sixth stage victory.

Armstrong joined his Astana colleague on the podium, finishing third at age 37, four years after retiring.

Luxembourg's Andy Schleck of Team Saxo Bank split the two in second place while Bradley Wiggins matched the best-ever finish by a Brit by claiming fourth for Garmin Slipstream.

Contador, who won the Tour two years ago, was delighted with his second victory and admitted it was all the sweeter because of tensions over who was the team's No.1 rider.

Asked what the hardest moment in this race was, he replied: "It was in the team hotel. It was a very difficult Tour but I savour it and it is more special because of it.

"We are totally incompatible.

In the end Armstrong will go his way and I'll go mine.

"I'm really happy to have won because it was a tough Tour but I have to thank my team and everyone at the organisation.

"It brings me deep joy and honour to be here."

Armstrong admitted he had been well beaten by Contador but vowed to return next year when he will take his place in new team Radio Shack.

The American said: "I came here to do my best but some guys were clearly better than me. Considering my age and recent racing, it's not a bad performance."

Cavendish's Columbia team again controlled the sprint finish, with American veteran George Hincapie then Aussie Mark Renshaw leading out the Manxman perfectly.

The 24-year-old completed the Tour for the first time at the third attempt, surging clear of the field for a remarkably easy win - the first by a British rider on the Champs Elysee.

Cavendish, who now has a career total of 10 Tour stage wins, said: "I said all along, I wanted to win on the Champs Elysees.

"Every sprinter in the world dreams of crossing the line with their hands in the air on the Champs Elysees.

"There was a lot of fighting with other teams trying to come through but we kept it so controlled."

Asked about his ambitions for next year, Cavendish insisted he has unfinished business in the contest for the green jersey - the classification awarded to the best all-round sprinter, which was won by Norway's Thor Hushovd.

He said: "To win is the feeling I like best so we'll target the green jersey next year."

Spaniard Juan Manuel Garate was King of the Mountains while Schleck, 24, secured the white jersey awarded to the best-placed young rider.

THE TOP 6

1 ALBERTO CONTADOR

2 ANDY SCHLECK

3 LANCE ARMSTRONG

4 BRADLEY WIGGINS

5 FRANK SCHLECK

6 ANDREAS KLODEN

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BACK FOR SECONDS: Contador savours Tour glory in Paris yesterday
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 27, 2009
Words:499
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