Levi Leipheimer of the US won the 20th and penultimate stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Saturday, while Astana teammate Alberto Contador of Spain retained the overall leader’s yellow jersey.
The 34-year-old Leipheimer moved into second place overall after finishing the 17.1km time trial up the category 1 Alto de Navacerrada mountain in 33 minutes, 6 seconds.
Contador followed 31 seconds later, just ahead of Alejandro Valverde of Spain.
Contador will complete a rare sweep of cycling’s three major races — the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta — if he retains his lead during the final stage.
Barring an unexpected upset or accident, the 25-year-old Astana rider will equal the feat of former cycling greats Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi and Bernard Hinault, who also won the three cycling classics.
Contador won last year’s Tour and this year’s Giro. A Vuelta victory would see him claim all three titles within 15 months, besting Hinault’s previous record of 26 months.
Leipheimer is 46 seconds behind Contador overall. This year’s Tour champion Carlos Sastre of Spain, riding for Team CSC, is 4:12 back in third.
“It was important to maintain the overall lead,” Contador said. “They were really squeezing me from behind, so I didn’t have time to even think of celebrating until I’d finished. Now, I just want to rest a bit and savor the moment.”
Sastre said he was delighted to finish the stage 1:02 behind in fourth place to secure third place overall.
“I wanted to secure third place but it was difficult, which is all you know when you are out there fighting,” Sastre said. “But I did it. It was very important for me and I will be very happy to be on the podium in Madrid.”
The race was set to end yesterday with a 102.2km ride from San Sebastian de los Reyes north of Madrid to the finish down the central Castellana boulevard.
INTO THE SEMIS: Top seed Tai Tzu-ying hit two stunning backhands in quick succession while on the floor in her quarter-final, prompting disbelieving gasps and cheers Taiwanese badminton stars Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin yesterday advanced to the gold medal match of the men’s doubles, while Taiwanese top seed Tai Tzu-ying got off to a rough start in a nail-biting women’s singles quarter-final against Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, but rallied with a series of flash backhand smashes. Lee and Wang beat Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 21-11, 21-10 in their men’s doubles semi-final to set up a shot at the gold medal against China’s Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen, who had a 24-22, 21-13 win over Malaysia’s Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik. Tai rallied from a game
‘BOSS CHARACTER’: Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin said they had ‘crawled out of hell’ and have nothing to lose in a match against the world’s No. 2 pairing Badminton duo Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin made history in Tokyo yesterday by becoming the first Taiwanese shuttlers to advance to an Olympics semi-final after they edged their Japanese rivals in the quarter-finals of the men’s doubles. The world No. 3 Taiwanese duo defeated Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe 21-16, 21-19 in 44 minutes at the Musashino Forest Plaza. By reaching the final four, the pair have recorded Taiwan’s best ever showing in Olympic badminton, surpassing a quarter-finals finish by Lee Sheng-mu and Fang Chieh-min in the men’s doubles at the London Games in 2012. After clinching the hard-earned victory, Lee dropped to
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who won the Philippines’ first-ever Olympic gold medal this week, on Thursday said that she has fond memories of training in Kaohsiung in 2019 and feels like she has family there. In an online interview organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, Diaz said she visited Taiwan twice in 2019 so she could concentrate on her training without being distracted by friends and invitations to socialize. “I feel like I have also family there,” she said, adding that she did her training sessions at Gushan Senior High School in Kaohsiung. Diaz, who claimed gold in the under-55kg class
Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying had just lost a heartbreaker in her Olympic badminton gold medal match final on Sunday, but comforting words from fellow shuttler P.V. Sindhu of India helped her work through a cauldron of emotions. In a Facebook post late on Sunday, Tai wrote that she was feeling reasonably satisfied with her performance after losing to China’s Chen Yufei 18-21, 21-19, 18-21 in the women’s singles final, when Sindhu, who won bronze, sought her out after the medal ceremony. Sindhu, who lost to Tai in the semi-finals on Saturday, hugged the Taiwanese athlete. “You performed very well. Today just wasn’t your day,”