Lance Armstrong’s dream of winning his eighth Tour de France during his farewell Tour de France ended abruptly with the first mountain stage to Morzine-Avoriaz.

“My Tour’s finished,” he said

He ended a 189-kilometre hot, slog in the Alps 11’45” behind winner Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), some 13 years younger.

Armstrong first retired at age 33, after winning the Tour de France for the seventh consecutive time. He decided to return to professional cycling in the autumn of 2008. He proved he still had his touch with a third overall at last year’s Tour de France, but this year has gone from bad to worse.

He has crashed, been dragged into a doping scandal by former team-mate Floyd Landis and now, suffered the his worst humiliation in the Tour de France since his return from cancer.

“I’ve had a lot of good days here [at the Tour],” he added. “I’ve had bad days. This is just a bad day.”

Three separate crashes ruined Armstrong’s day: he was held up behind a crash at kilometre seven, he touched his pedal to the ground and crashed onto his back at kilometre 138, and narrowly avoided the crash of Egoi Martínez at kilometre 169.

It’s hard to argue Armstrong did not have the form to remain with the favourites when the pace increased on La Ramaz because he had just fallen on his back.

However, age and a tough pre-season may have played their part. Armstrong has rarely had team RadioShack on the front to control the tempo in this Tour de France, which increases his chances of crashing and indicates he may not be confident in his overall chances.

Today’s time loss put Armstrong in 39th at 13’26” back – out of contention for a top three and even a top ten. He refuses to give in, though, and plans to continue his comeback all the way until in Paris, in two weeks.

“I’ll hang in there and enjoy my final Tour,” he said. “I’m not going to complain.”

Tour de France 2010: Latest news

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Cavendish strikes back in Tour de France

Thomas happy with Tour’s white jersey; but says ‘All for Brad’

Wiggins crashes on Tour stage start

Cavendish and Farrar return to top

Cavendish keeps up fight for first Tour win

Sky delivers Boasson Hagen to third without pressure

Tour de France 2010: Stage reports

Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour’s white

Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up

Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour

Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims

Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC

Stage three live coverage: As it happened

Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa

Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters

Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win

Tour de France 2010: Photos

Stage seven photo gallery

Stage six photo gallery

Stage five photo gallery

Stage four photo gallery

Stage three photo gallery

Stage two photo gallery

Stage one gallery

Prologue photo gallery

Tour de France 2010: Videos

Stage seven video highlights

Stage six video highlights

Stage five video highlights

Stage four video highlights

Stage three video highlights

Stage two video highlights

Stage one video highlights

Prologue video highlights

Tour de France 2010: Race guide

Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

Official start list, with race numbers

Brits at the Tour 2010

Tout team guide

Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins

Tour de France 2010: Pictures

Tour team presentation, Rotterdam

Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special