Stage 20 photo gallery>>

Carlos Sastre (CSC) is poised to win the Tour de France in Paris on Sunday after successfully defending the yellow jersey in the 53km time trial stage on Saturday.


The little Spaniard was widely expected to lose the 1-34 lead he held on Cadel Evans (Silence) but rode the time trial of his life.

He was only eight seconds slower than Evans at the first time split after 18km and was only 23 seconds slower after 36km. At the finish in Saint-Amand-Montrond Sastre was only 31 seconds slower and so still leads Evans by 1-05.

At the finish, knowing he had done enough to seal victory in the Tour, Sastre crossed himself, kissed his fingers and then movingly pointed to the sky, before clenching his fist in celebration.

??I was calm this morning, I knew it was the chance of a lifetime for me and now the dream has come true,? Sastre said.

?I?ve been feeling better and better on this Tour and I?ve always had good ability to recover from my efforts. This success is about teamwork. The Schleck brothers sacrificed themselves for me.?

Evans gave it everything in the time trial but never looked comfortable and struggled to push a big gear on the rolling roads. Just like last year, the tough Aussie failed to make up enough time in the final time trial and is destined to finish second again.

KOHL ON FINAL PODIUM
Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner) pulled out a great final time trial to hang onto a place in the final podium, 1-20 behind Sastre.

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) moved up to fourth place overall, 2-00 behind Sastre, as Frank Schleck (CSC) had a nightmare ride and slipped to sixth overall. Christian Vande Velde (Garmin) moved up to fifth, 3-12 behind Sastre.

Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) won the time trial, stopping the clock with a time of 1-03-50. The powerful German beat world time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (CSC) by 21 seconds to complete a double time trial victory in the 2008 Tour de Franc after also winning the stage four time trial in Cholet.

Britain’s David Millar (Garmin-Chipotle) produced a strong ride to finish fifth with 1-05-27, 1-37 behind Schumacher. Chris Froome (Barloworld) also pulled a fantastic ride out of the bag to come 15th with 1-06-51.

SASTRE SET TO TRIUMPH IN PARIS
Sastre is now set to ride into Paris in triumph on Sunday and win his first ever Tour de France.

After a decade of podium places in major stage races, Sastre?s Tour de France success is a life-time achievement award for the friendly and laid-back Spaniard.

He looked fresher and stronger than Evans on the stage to L?Alpe d?Huez, when he won the stage, and his strength in the third week made the difference and set him up for a day of celebration on the Champs Elysees.

Sastre will be joined by team mate Andy Schleck on the Paris podium after the young Luxembourg rider sealed victory in the best young rider competition. Schleck finished behind main rival Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) but still leads the Czech rider by 1-14.

Bernhard Kohl (Gerolsteiner) will pull on the climber?s polka-dot jersey after his impressive ride throughout the Tour de France, while Oscar Freire is favourite to win the green points jersey.

Freire leads Erik Zabel (Milram) by 42 points. There are enough points up for grabs for the German veteran to snatch victory but Freire would have to crash or finish out of the top 20 places in the final sprint.

Team CSC completed their success at the Tour de France by also sealing the team competition. They lead Ag2r by more than fifteen minutes and so will have plenty to celebrate in Paris on Sunday night.

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE 20 ITT RESULTS
1. Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner in 1-03-50

2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) CSC-Saxo Bank 53km in 1-04-12
3. Kim Kirchen (Lux) Columbia in 1-04-51
4. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Chipotle in 1-04-55
5. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Chipotle in 1-05-27
6. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank in 1-05-45
7. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto in 1-05-56
8. Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner in 1-06-09
9. Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner in 1-06-11
10. George Hincapie (USA) Columbia in 1-06-19
British
15. Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld in 1-06-51

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 20
1. Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC-Saxo Bank

2. Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto at 1m 5secs
3. Bernhard Kohl (Aut) Gerolsteiner at 1m 20secs
4. Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank at 2m 0secs
5. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Garmin-Chipotle at 3m 12secs
6. Frank Schleck (Lux) CSC-Saxo Bank at 4m 28secs
7. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 6m 32secs
8. Kim Kirchen (Lux) Columbia at 7m 2secs
9. Alejandro valverde (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 7m 26secs
10. Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Ag2r at 9m 12secs

Tour de France 2008Chris Froome: another good TT placing

Tour de France 2008David Millar: strong ride for fifth place

Tour de France 2008Fabian Cancellara

Tour de France 2008Cadel Evans: couldn’t quite do enough to take the race lead

Tour de France 2008Stefan Schumacher, stage winner

Tour de France 2008Carlos Sastre retained the yellow jersey, defying expectation

Photos by Graham Watson



TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: STAGE REPORTS

Stage 20: Sastre sets up overall Tour victory
Stage 19: Chavanel wins, time trial showdown looms
Stage 18: Burghardt shows that Columbia can win without Cav
Stage 17: Sastre wins on Alpe d’Huez, takes lead
Stage 16: Dessel wins
Stage 15: Schleck takes lead in the Alps
Stage 14: Oscar Freire wins in Digne-les-Bains
Stage 13: Cavendish takes fourth win
Stage 12: Cavendish makes it three
Stage 11: Arvesen wins
Stage 10: Evans takes yellow jersey by one second
Stage nine: Ricco wins in the Pyrenees
Stage eight: Cavendish wins again in Toulouse
Stage seven: Sanchez takes action-packed stage
Stage six: Ricco storms to win
Stage five: Cavendish takes first Tour win
Stage four: Schumacher wins TT and takes race lead
Stage three: Dumoulin wins stage from break
Stage two: Hushovd wins chaotic sprint
Stage one: Valverde wins

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: NEWS

Schlecks’ father’s car searched
Analysis: tactical battle on L’Alpe d’Huez [stage 17]
Schleck promises to attack main rivals
Schleck ready to defend Tour lead [stage 15]
Rest day news round-up [July 21]
Saunier Duval riders: “We are honest”
Cavendish talks to Cycling Weekly after quitting Tour
Schleck savours first ever Tour de France jersey [stage 15]
Comment: Why Cav is right to go home today
Cavendish pulls out of the Tour
Barloworld to end cycling sponsorship
Ricco speaks on Italian television
Cavendish joins the all-time greats
Saunier Duval sack Ricco and Piepoli
Tour bosses say fight against doping continues
Ricco denies doping at the Tour
Saunier Duval pull out of Tour
Tour’s top ten changes
Ricco positive for EPO at Tour
Analysis: Tour de France rest day summary
Cavendish battles through Pyrenees
Evans suffers but takes yellow jersey [stage 10]
Analysis: Hautacam shakes up 2008 Tour
Ricco silences critics with solo attack in Pyrenees [stage nine]
Cavendish talks about his second stage win [stage eight]
Beltran heads home but doubts remain about other Tour riders
David Millar: the dope controls are working
Manuel Beltran tests positive for EPO at the Tour
Comment: How the Tour rediscovered its spirit
Doping back in Tour de France headlines
Millar: close but no cigar in Super-Besse [stage six]
Super-Besse shows form of main contenders [stage six]
Millar to go for yellow [stage six]
Team Columbia’s reaction to Cavendish’s win [stage five]
Cavendish talks about his Tour stage win
Tour comment: Why Evans should be happy [stage four]
Millar: Still aiming for Tour yellow jersey [stage 4]
Who is Romain Feillu?
Cavendish disappointed with stage two result
Millar too close to Tour yellow jersey
Stage 2 preview: A sprint finish for Cavendish?
Millar happy after gains precious seconds in Plumelec
Valverde delighted with opening Tour stage win
Comment: Is Valverde’s win a good thing for the Tour?

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: PHOTOS

Stage 20
Stage 19
Stage 18
Stage 17
Stage 15
Stage 14
Stage 13
Stage 12
Stage 11
Stage 11
Stage 10
Stage nine
Stage eight
Stage seven
Stage six
Stage five
Stage four
Stage three
Stage two
Stage one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: BLOGS

Life at the Tour part five
Life at the Tour part four
Life at the Tour part three
Life at the Tour part two
Life at the Tour part one

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE

Tour de France 2008 homepage>>
News and features>>
All the riders (start list, list of abandons)>>
Day by day summary>>
Route & stages>>
Teams and riders>>
About the Tour>>