Triumphant Contador leaves Armstrong suffering

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The Spanish cycling champion wins the Tour de France’s 15th stage in the Swiss Alps on Sunday.

Verbier -- Spain's 2007 champion Alberto Contador of Astana took possession of the Tour de France yellow jersey after a victory on the 15th stage in the Swiss Alps on Sunday.

Contador, winning his first individual stage of this year's race, beat a small group of favourites containing teammate Lance Armstrong to the summit finish of Verbier.

The Spaniard's move dropped Australian Cadel Evans and defending champion Carlos Sastre of Spain further down the overall standings.

"He went off like a rocket," said Luxembourg's Andy Schleck, who is now fifth overall at 2:26.

Seven-time champion Armstrong followed at 1:35 behind, only a handful of seconds behind Evans, who was at 1:26.

Contador now leads Astana teammate Armstrong by 1:37 in the overall standings, with Briton Bradley Wiggins of Garmin in third at 1:46. German Andreas Kloden, also of Astana, is fourth at 2:17.

"I'm very happy with this result," said Contador.

"It wasn't a long climb, but we started it really fast and in the end I managed to do what I wanted to make the difference.

"If I wanted to leave my rivals behind me in the standings, that was the only way I could do it."

Armstrong admitted Contador was the better man on the day.

"There is no point messing around. I gave everything I had and I wasn't the best," said Armstrong.

"I'm going to do my best and be a solid teammate."

Andy Schleck warned Contador he would be calling on Saxo Bank to help him erode the Spaniard's advantage in the coming days in the Alps.

"That wasn't a great mountain stage, once we get the accumulation of several climbs, that when we'll see big differences, it will be an interesting last week," said Schleck.

Evans, the runner-up the past two years, was upbeat after admitting it was "possibly one of the worst days of my Tour de France career".

"Sometimes you just have to do what you can and I don't know about the time loss and the placings, but I think I defended well for a guy who was having a horrible day," said Evans.

Sastre, who is now 11th overall at 3:52 behind, spoke for most of the peloton when he said, "Obviously, there's one rider above all the rest here and that's Alberto Contador.

"I want to congratulate him for his victory, it was stunning. Behind him, we're all at about the same level."

AFP / Justin Davis / Expatica

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