The old days of Lance Armstrong’s team controlling the Tour de France are over. His RadioShack team suffered at the hands of Saxo Bank in Tuesday’s stage three to Arenberg, letting Andy Schleck’s Saxo Bank hammer at the head over the cobbled roads.
Without RadioShack at the front, Armstrong was vulnerable to losing time to crashes or mechanicals. In sector four, Sars-et-Rosières, disaster struck. Andy Schleck’s brother, Fränk, crashed and held up Armstrong. Unlike many other favourites, though, Armstrong lost further time to a punctured tyre.
When Armstrong ruled the Tour de France for seven years (1999 to 2005), he kept his US Postal/Discovery Channel team on the front at all times to avoid such mishaps. Today, though, RadioShack showed it lacked strength or perhaps lacked faith in their leader’s ability.
“That’s just the nature of the sport,” said Armstrong. “Some times you’re the hammer and sometimes you’re the nail. Today I was the nail, but I had plenty of days where I was the hammer.”
He continued to rattle off clichés, perhaps preparing for a political career. First though, he plans on fighting for Tour de France win number eight, making up his one minute and 21 second deficit to Schleck.
Armstrong said, “I am not going home.”
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