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Anybody's race now

With the Tour de France heading towards its decisive stages, there is still no favourite in a wide open race that is fuelling the passions of French fans who hope Thomas Voeckler holds his lead against all odds. The contenders | Stage winners

other Updated: Jul 19, 2011 01:33 IST

With the Tour de France heading towards its decisive stages, there is still no favourite in a wide open race that is fuelling the passions of French fans who hope Thomas Voeckler holds his lead against all odds.

When racing resumes Tuesday after a rest day, Voeckler will open the 16th stage nearly two minutes ahead of Frank Schleck supposedly a weaker rider than his younger brother, Andy and four minutes ahead of three-time champion Alberto Contador. http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/190711/19_07_pg22a.jpg

Voeckler remains fiercely adamant he has a "zero percent chance" to become the first French Tour winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985, while doubts persist about Contador's troublesome right knee.

Even the Schleck brothers seem undecided who is No 1 on their team, while two-time runner-up Cadel Evans is conspicuously staying out of the limelight.

All of this means that there is no favourite heading into the last week of the Tour.

Contador ready
Rochegude: Alberto Contador says he has no choice but to attack his Tour de France rivals in the thin air of the French Alps if he is to defend his yellow jersey this year.

Spain's three-time champion has won all six past Grand Tours, including the Giro d'Italia which he secured for the second time in May. But after first nine days of racing in which he crashed several times and lost time to key rivals, he arguably faces one of the biggest challenges of his career.

Andy can sacrifice
Soyons: Andy Schleck kept his rivals guessing on Monday by claiming that both he and brother Frank could sacrifice their victory chances in a bid to beat Alberto Contador.

After the first mountain stages in the Pyrenees the Luxembourg siblings, as well as Australia's Cadel Evans, are in prime position to end Contador's reign.