CONTADOR KING OF VERBIER

Astana’s Alberto Contador won the day and the maillot jaune on Sunday, riding away from a small group of favorites on the final climb in stage 15 of the Tour de France.

Contador used the Category 1 climb to Verbier to settle accounts with teammate Lance Armstrong and the rest of his rivals for the overall victory, rocketing away to win by more than 40 seconds over Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck, who collected the white jersey for the best young rider in the process. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) finished third.

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HINCAPIE 5 SECONDS LATE

Katusha’s Sergei Ivanov won Saturday’s stage 14, a mostly flat transition stage from Friday’s day in the mountainous Verges region and Sunday’s first day in the Alps, ahead of Robbie McEwen.

Ivanov attacked his 11 breakaway companions in the final 11 kilometers and used his time trial skills to roll away to an impressive win.

His breakaway companion George Hincapie almost snagged the yellow jersey from Rinaldo Nocentini, finishing just five seconds too late to take the lead.

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LEIPHEIMER CRASHES OUT

Levi Leipheimer has been forced to abandon the Tour de France after breaking his wrist in a crash on stage 12 of the race on Thursday.

Cyclingnews spoke to an Astana's press officer, Phillipe Maertens, who confirmed that Leipheimer would not start stage 13 on Friday.

"He wasn't too bad last night but this morning, the pain was too much," he said. We took him to the hospital in Vittel, where scans revealed a transversal fracture of the scaphoid bone of the wrist. He is still in hospital now. He will certainly want to go home as soon as possible, but we haven't organised a flight yet."

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CAV WINS AGAIN

Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) won a leisurely, radio-free 10th stage of Tour de France on Tuesday.

It was Bastille Day, and a breakaway full of Frenchmen declared independence early on, but the home crowd would have no reason to celebrate the finale — with a little help from George Hincapie and Mark Renshaw, Cavendish won yet another drag race to the line ahead of green jersey Alessandro Petacchi(Cervélo TestTeam) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream).

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NOCENTINI WINS YELLOW

Brice Feillu of Agritubel took his first ever Tour de France stage win high on the summit of Arcalís. The young French rider, in his first year as a professional, escaped with the early breakaway and survived to celebrate victory at the finish.

Rinaldo Nocentini of AG2R-La Mondiale, who also rode the break today, takes over the Yellow Jersey of race leader by a slim margin over Alberto Contador. The Spanish climber leapfrogged his team mate Lance Armstrong in the general classification and is now 2 seconds ahead of the American.

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CAVENDISH WINS SECOND RACE

Team Columbia-HTC once again showed its strength in this Tour de France, this time turning the screws in the crosswinds of the Camargue and riding away with the race. After a perfect lead-out from Mark Renshaw, Mark Cavendish won his second straight stage win over the small group who survived the Columbia whirlwind.

Cavendish also added to his advantage in the points classification, which he now leads by a solid margin over Thor Hushovd of Cervélo TestTeam, who finished second today.

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LANCE WILL BE WATCHED

France's sports minister has said Lance Armstrong will be "particularly monitored" in anti-doping checks at this year's Tour de France.

Roselyne Bachelot said the seven-times winner, who has come out of retirement to compete and has always denied taking banned substances, would be watched.

"He will be particularly, particularly, particularly monitored," she said.

The head of France's anti-doping agency says the American would be treated like anyone else when it came to dope tests.

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Tour Turned Upside Down

After the so-called modest parcours of the previous edition, the 2009 Tour de France will be anything but. From the longer-than-usual 15km opening time trial around the streets of the millionaires' paradise of Monte Carlo, the final destination of the maillot jaune ought to be wide open right up to the final day thanks to a sting in the tail the like of which has not been seen in the Tour before.

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