PARIS — Alberto Contador stood atop the podium at the Tour de France on Sunday for the third time in four years, struggling to rein in his emotions as Spain’s national anthem echoed across the wide boulevard of the Champs-Elysees.
Off to one side, Lance Armstrong applauded and then, without much fanfare, headed toward the exit.
“I need a cold beer,” he said when asked his thoughts at the finish line.
Rarely has the emergence of a sport’s newest superstar dovetailed so neatly with the departure of the last one.
Contador held off a next-to-last day challenge from Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, his runner-up for a second consecutive year, draining much of the drama from the 20th and final stage. Denis Menchov of Russia was third overall.