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.”
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