Nairo Quintana can't keep up with Alberto Contador on the descent of the Port de Bales and finishes 13 seconds behind the Spaniard

Many say the winner of the Tour de France will come down to who is the best climber, but Alberto Contador showed descending is just as important as he won stage three of the Route du Sud.

The Spaniard, coming off the back of an impressive Giro d’Italia win just three weeks ago, battled it out with Nairo Quintana on the race’s penultimate stage and rolled over the finish line 13 seconds ahead of the Colombian.

Quintana is widely thought of as being the best climber in the professional peloton – growing up at 3,000m altitude in South America certainly helps that – but Contador, seven years his elder, was more than a match.

With three category one climbs between Izaourt and Bangers-de-Luchons it was always going to be the Port de Bales ascent that would settle the stage.

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The pair were side-by-side as they summitted the mountain ahead of the peloton, with Ag2r-La Mondiale’s Pierre-Roger Latour tagging along as well.

Contador, however, had another trick up his sleeve after they’d reached the top – attacking on the descent and opening up an unassailable lead over Quintana on the 20km drop to the finish.

In the end, Contador’s lead got out to 13 seconds over the Movistar rider, who finished 22 seconds ahead of Latour.

The win and the five-second time bonus sees Contador assume the lead of the race by 17 seconds ahead of Quintana with one relatively flat stage to come on Sunday.

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