Spain's Alberto Contador looks set to beat rivals Andy Schleck and Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France's grand finale down the French capital's Champs Elysées, marking the end of the 96th Tour de France.
REUTERS - Only a harsh twist of fate can prevent Alberto Contador from playing the leading role in the Champs-Elysees parade marking the end of the 96th Tour de France on Sunday.
With a lead of four minutes 11 seconds over Luxembourg's Andy Schleck and 5:24 over American Lance Armstrong, the 26-year-old Spaniard will, as is the custom on the Tour, start the celebrations early.
The 21st and final stage is widely expected to end in a mass sprint, with Briton Mark Cavendish the overwhelming favourite for a possible sixth win in this year's race.
On the 164-km course from Montereau Fault-Yonne, the mood of the race will quickly change when relief and relaxation give way to tension as the peloton approaches the French capital.
Some riders will take a last opportunity to shine by breaking away during the eight laps that will take them along the Rue de Rivoli and through Place de la Concorde.
Since the Champs-Elysees became the setting of the Tour finale in 1975 the last stage has often been decided in a mass finish.
The laureates will then take their places on the podium, with Contador, who was the 2007 champion, above his Astana team mate Armstrong.
Date created : 2009-07-26