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Contador, Armstrong stay first, second at Tour de France in Alps

BOURG-SAINT-MAURICE, France - Alberto Contador kept the overall lead in the Tour de France on Tuesday after another ride in the Alps, with teammate Lance Armstrong clinging to second place.

Mikel Astarloza of Spain won the 16th stage, a 99-mile route from the Swiss town of Martigny to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Contador and Armstrong finished in the main pack behind Astarloza and other breakaway riders.

Armstrong, a seven-time champion, had to catch up to Contador after several attackers burst ahead in the second of two long climbs.

Contador, the Astana team's 2007 champion from Spain, leads Armstrong by 1 minute, 37 seconds. Bradley Wiggins of Britain is third, 1:46 back. The three-week Tour ends Sunday in Paris.

With a little more than a mile to go Tuesday, Astarloza escaped three other breakaway riders and held on for his first stage victory at the Tour. Astarloza, who rides for the Euskadi Euskaltel team, thrust his fists in the air and kissed his fingers as he crossed the line. He was six seconds ahead of French riders Sandy Casar and Pierrick Fedrigo.

'I was lucky to leave alone and finish alone,' Astarloza said. 'I'm a complete rider but I'm not good at the sprint, so I have to attack from far away. I am super happy.'

The course ended with a 19-mile downhill run. Downhills make it hard for breakaway riders to outpace the fast-moving pack.

Riders also scaled the highest peak of this Tour, the snowcapped Grand-Saint-Bernard pass on the Swiss-Italian border that is 8,113 feet. Its sister, the Petit-Saint-Bernard pass on the Italian-French border, was the day's other big climb, and each was at least 131/2 miles.

In the final climb, with nearly 23 miles left in the stage, Andy Schleck of Luxembourg attacked. He was quickly joined by Astarloza and a few other riders, but not Armstrong.

The 37-year-old Texan, after dropping back by as much as 35 seconds, then mustered a dazzling acceleration to return to that small group of favorites, which included Schleck, Contador and Wiggins.

The final descent was perilous: Jens Voigt of Germany crashed either from a bicycle malfunction or a bump in the road - it was not immediately clear - and was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

SideBar: Next up

Today: The 17th stage is a 105.3-mile ride from Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand, featuring five climbs. The final ascent's summit is only 15 kilometers away from the finish and this stage is regarded as the most difficult in the Alps this year. (Versus, 9 a.m.)