Tour de France: Cadel Evans set to become first Aussie to win Tour

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The Independent Online

Cadel Evans seized the Tour de France leader's yellow jersey after the next-to-last stage today, all but securing the first victory by an Australian in cycling's greatest race.

The 34-year-old veteran, a two-time runner-up, took the lead by overcoming a 57-second deficit to Andy Schleck of Luxembourg in the time trial in and near Grenoble.

On the victor's podium, a red-eyed Evans was choked up, holding back tears before hurling the winner's bouquet into the crowd.

"I really can't quite believe it right now," said Evans. "I have been concentrating on one event for so long."

The Schleck brothers, knowing they had lost, embraced after the finish line. Overall, Evans now leads Andy Schleck by 1:34, and Frank Schleck by 2:30.

The race ends Sunday in Paris in what is expected to be a largely ceremonial ride.

The 20th stage was won by Tony Martin of Germany.

By the first intermediate time check at the 15-kilometer (9.3-mile) mark, Evans had already erased 36 seconds of his deficit to Andy Schleck and was 34 seconds faster than the elder Schleck.

At the second, at 27.5 kilometers (17.1 miles), Andy Schleck's lead had vanished — Evans was 1:32 faster. The Luxembourg rider wasn't even among the 10 fastest riders who had crossed that point.

By the end, Evans finished second to Martin — seven seconds behind — and was 2:31 faster than Andy Schleck.