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Battle for Tour de France victory down to 57 seconds

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Though the race concludes Sunday in Paris, the ride to the Champs-Élysées is typically a processional stage; Saturday’s time trial around Grenoble will likely determine the podium places.

Schleck is considered to be weaker than Evans in the time trial discipline, but he has improved his time trialing since a dismal performance in the 2009 Tour, when he lost 1 minute and 44 seconds to Alberto Contador in the final time trial at Annecy.

“I’m going to be very motivated with the yellow jersey on my shoulders,” Schleck said.

Evans’ deficit of 57 seconds behind Schleck isn’t insurmountable. During the final individual time trial in 1989, American Greg LeMond erased a 50-second deficit and ended up beating France’s Laurent Fignon by eight seconds. It was the closest overall finish in Tour history. (Editor's note: the original version of this story misstated Evans's deficit.)

Schleck's rollercoaster week in the Alps

After Wednesday’s Stage 17, he was more than two minutes and a half behind then-leader Thomas Voeckler.

Dissatisfied with his performance and the stage’s treacherous descent, he lashed out at Tour organizers.

“I think the course was badly chosen,” he said. “We don't want to see riders crashing or taking risks.”

Two days later, his tune has changed. He’s leading the Tour de France for the first time since last year’s Stage 15, when he suffered a mechanical breakdown and Alberto Contador controversially took advantage.

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