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Schleck keeps Tour lead

Alexandre Vinokourov made up for sacrificing his own ambitions on the Tour de France when he capped a superb late attack on the 13th stage of the race victory here on Saturday.

APF reports that Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck, of Saxo Bank, retained the race leader’s yellow jersey with his 31sec lead on main rival and reigning champion Alberto Contador intact ahead of Sunday’s first stage in the Pyrenees.

Vinokourov meanwhile grabbed the stage win he almost claimed on Friday in Mende, when Astana teammate Contador countered a late attack by Spaniard Joaquin Rodriguez to overtake the Kazakh rider.

This time, Vinokourov made no mistake with a perfectly-timed counter attack after Italian Alessandro Ballan had jumped out of the peloton with 8.7km remaining of the 196km stage from Rodez.

Vinokourov caught Ballan with ease then employed impressive bike handling skills on the rest of the downhill section to keep the peloton at bay on the downhill leading towards the finish.

Britain’s Mark Cavendish won the sprint for second place, the HTC-Columbia rider thus adding precious points to his tally for the green jersey.