It was an absolute nail-biter of a Time Trial for Stage 19. While most eyes were watching Cadel Evans to see if he could make up the 1:50 needed to claim the yellow jersey from Alberto Contador, what really made exciting viewing was Levi Leipheimer! Riding what Phil and Paul agreed was "the time trial of his life", Levi finished the stage well ahead of the rest of the field... and very nearly stole 2nd place overall from Cadel Evans!
In the end, Evans managed to stay 8 seconds overall ahead of Leipheimer, while Contador amazingly managed to hang onto his overall lead and will cycle into Paris the victor in the maillot jaune. It is one of the closest finishes in the history of the Tour, with only 31 seconds separating the first and third place riders - that's really something considering their overall time exceeds 89 hours!
Contador's performance, and indeed possibly Leipheimer's as well, might have been boosted by the presence of the spiritual muse of Team Discovery Channel, Lance Armstrong, who still owns a 1/3 share in the team and made a surprise appearance at the time trial, riding in the team car which followed Contador throughout the 55.5km course.
Although there is still one more stage, there is traditionally never an attack on the yellow jersey in the ride into Paris, so the standings are they are now are likely to remain unchanged. The only jersey which is sometimes still up for grabs in the last stage is the green, sprinters jersey, which can be decided in the intermediate sprints on the Champs-Elysees. This year, however, Tom Boonen is fairly well assured of winning green as he is 24 points ahead of the second place green jersey contender, Robbie Hunter.
Let's hope the result this year is not clouded by a controversy over the winner's drug tests, as last year's Tour is still unresolved with a decision in Floyd Landis' arbitration is still outstanding. Contador is still being asked to explain away some doping suspicions, as reported here.
Although we might have a good idea of the result of the Tour, there are still a few good hours left of knitting and many of us are still putting the finishing touches on our projects! We're going to leave the knitting updates for tomorrow to give a few more knitters time to post about their finished Tour projects! And don't forget, there is still one more prize draw to go. Entries close at midday on June 30th - so comment comment comment and don't forget to post about your Tour project!