Frenchman Sandy Casar (Francaise des Jeux) has won a largely uneventful stage 18 of the Tour de France, the last before the final crucial time trial that will decide the overall winner and Sunday?s stage to the Champs Elysées.
Second on the 211 kilometre stage from Cahors to Angouleme was Axel Merckx of T-Mobile. Casar - who had crashed early on when he hit a dog ? led out the final uphill sprint from a long way out to take finally win a stage in this year's Tour after several attempts.
The four-man break, which also included Bouygues Telecom?s Laurent Lefevre and Rabobank?s Michael Boogerd got away in the first 40 kilometres and built up a maximum lead of nearly 20 minutes.
None of the riders who attacked was considered a major threat overall and so the peloton let them fight for the stage victory. Spaniard Alberto Contador, whose Discovery Channel squad rode on the front for most of the stage, retained the overall lead and is expected to seal victroy in the Tour in Saturday's 55km time trial from Cognac to Angouleme.
Australia's Cadel Evans (Predictor) is his closest rival but will have to pull back 1-50 on Contador to win the Tour. He gained three seconds in Angouleme after a split in the bunch left Contador in the second group but if those seconds decide the Tour de France, it will be the closest winning margin ever.
David Millar (Saunier Duval) finished 11 minutes behind Casar as he tried to rest and save his energy for one last hard effort in Saturday's time trial.
Photo: Luc Claessen
OVERALL CLASSIFICATION: AFTER STAGE 18
1 Alberto Contador (Discovery Channel) in 86-04-16
2 Cadel Evans (Preditor-Lotto) at 1-50
3 Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel) at 2-49
4 Carlos Sastre (CSC) at 6-02
5 Haimar Zubeldia (Euskaltel) at 6-29
6 Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) at 10-18
7 Kim Kirchen (T-Mobile) at 11-36
8 Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) at 12-47
9 Juan Mauricio Soler (Baroloworld) at 13-31
10 Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel) at 13-42
45 Charly Wegelius (Liquigas) at 1-41-52
70 David Millar (Saunier Duval) at 2-26-37
140 Geraint Thomas (Barloworld) at 3-39-44
TOUR DE FRANCE 2007: GUIDE
Complete start list
Guide to all 21 teams
Tour 2007 videos
ITV and Eurosport Tour TV listings
Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.
British cycling clothing brand VeloVixen saved by company behind Stolen Goat
The Herd Group Holdings also adds bikepacking brand ‘Wildcat’ to its portfolio
By Adam Becket • Published
Sir Chris Hoy to join Esports Worlds live studio audience IRL
The Olympic star will answer questions and offer insight at UCI's inaugural 'In Real Life' event
By James Shrubsall • Published