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In Tour de France, Lance back on track for podium

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Christophe Ena/AP

(Read caption) American seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong takes the start of the 18th stage of the Tour de France cycling race, an individual time-trial of 40.5 kilometers (25.2 miles) with start and finish in Annecy, Alps region, France, Thursday.

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Lance Armstrong reeled himself back into podium contention in Thursday’s 40-kilometer stage of the Tour de France, with only one decisive stage remaining. The American cyclist now stands in third, 5:25 behind teammate and race leader Alberto Contador. (Overall standings)

In the individual time trial, in which riders started three minutes apart and raced the clock, Contador edged out Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara by three seconds – you can see the full stage results here. (And check out this great photo of Contador gritting his teeth down the final stretch.)

The result showed the Spanish rider’s significant improvement since last summer, when Cancellara won Olympic gold in the same event only weeks after racing the Tour. A more rested Contador, whose Astana team was banned from last year’s Tour due to a doping scandal, finished fourth.

This time, Contador was the one who had reason to be slow, having put in a grueling performance in the Alps on Wednesday that bested Cancellara’s time by a whopping 35 minutes.

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