TOUR DE FRANCE: Contador second in stage 4 | NevadaAppeal.com

TOUR DE FRANCE: Contador second in stage 4

Associated Press

MUR-DE-BRETAGNE, France (AP) – Make no mistake, Alberto Contador is back on the prowl.

After a dismal start to the Tour de France, the three-time champion showed some of his old dominance Tuesday at cycling’s premier event. He gained seconds on his likely rivals by placing second to Stage 4 winner Cadel Evans in a two-man photo finish.

Norway’s Thor Hushovd, a sprint specialist, barely kept the yellow jersey in the 107-mile leg from Lorient to Mur-de-Bretagne. He even surprised himself by keeping up with Evans and Contador on a steep, if short, climb to the finish.

The stage in mostly flat Brittany underscored two aspects of the three-week race so far: Evans has been nearly flawless; Contador can never be ruled out.

The finish was so close that Contador raised a fist to celebrate what he believed was his victory. Then a black-and-white photo showed the Spaniard’s tire was a fraction of an inch behind.

“Contador again proving himself. He was up there and riding well,” Evans said. “He’s never a guy you can underestimate.”

“I still can’t quite believe it. … It was a very close final. I didn’t even know if I had it on the line myself,” Evans added. “To win in front of Alberto Contador is really a nice present.”

Contador showed that even on a short climb – long before the punishing Alps and Pyrenees ascents arrive – he can gain on key riders: Bradley Wiggins of Britain was six seconds back; Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, runner-up in 2009 and 2010, was eight seconds behind.

“I never thought that he was out of the race,” Andy Schleck. “He just had bad luck the first day and his team wasn’t suited for the time trial.”