Lance Armstrong (Astana) finished two minutes and 58 seconds behind stage winner Denis Menchov (Rabobank) at Alpe di Siusi on today’s fifth stage of the 2009 Giro d’Italia.

Yet again Armstrong went deep to try and stay with the overall contenders, showing his so-called ?dead Elvis? face of pain.

He was dropped six kilometres from the finish and finished with Astana team-mates Janez Brajkovic and trusted domestique Chechu Rubiera.

Ahead of him were all the Giro favourites and climbers.

Bradley Wiggins (Garmin) finished just behind Armstrong on Tuesday but today he climbed far better than the Texan, crossing the line in 22nd place. He 1-47 behind Menchov and so 1-11 ahead of Lance Armstrong. Charly Wegelius (Silence-Lotto) finished in the same time, with fellow Brit Chris Froome (Barloworld) just behind at 2-17.

After getting dressed and taking a drink, Armstrong admitted that he had underestimated the time he would lose, but insisted he was satisfied and still enjoying himself despite the pain and suffering.

?I?m definitely a little tired, it was a hard climb,? he said.

?I knew that we?d be behind so we just had to ride at our tempo and limit the losses. I thought maybe two minutes and it?s closer to three, but that?s okay.?

?I?m pleased with where we are. If I could have woken up this morning, snapped my finger and ridden away from everybody, I would have done that. I?d like that but it?s not realistic in 2009 and it wasn?t realistic in 2001 either.?

?As I said at the beginning of the race, the first half of the Giro is not going to be my half. I?ve got to ride into the race and still get my condition back after the accident. I can?t expect to be at the front.?

?I didn?t come in with any big illusions. I knew that I?d be minutes behind the best guys. The key is to ride within your limits, so you that when you get dropped you find your threshold and hold it there. We?ll see what happens in the second half of the Giro.?

Armstrong tried to justify his performance by saying he was never on form in May, even when he won the Tour de France.

?It felt like a climb in May. In all the years in the past, I?d never have done climbs like this in May,? he said.

?At this time of year I?d be doing training camps and then at the end of May I?d do the Midi-Libre and then the Dauphine in June. Even when I won the Tour de France I wasn?t the best guy on the team at the Dauphine. My build up is always a little more steady and mercurial, so I can?t expect that May would ever feel any different, especially after the crash.?

Is there more to come in July?

?That?s my plan, yeah.?

Do you still manage to enjoy, despite the suffering?

?Yeah. As long I stay with Chechu, I enjoy it. I don?t have a problem with people riding away from me. I knew it was going to happen. I just look around, find my guys and ride my tempo.?

Armstrong slipped to 22nd overall at 3-34 and is no longer considered a contender. However he said the Italians and other contenders should be worried about team mate Levi Leipheimer.

?I think Levi is one of the real favourites. If I were one of the Italian guys or favourites, I wouldn?t sleep well the night before Cinque Terre??

Giro d’Italia 2009 links

Stage reports
Stage five: Menchov wins mountain battle as Di Luca grabs the pink jersey
Stage four: Di Luca denies Soler on the line; Lovkvist takes pink jersey
Stage three: Cavendish loses pink jersey after being caught behind late crash
Stage two: Petacchi denies Cavendish the stage win
Stage one: Cavendish in pink as Columbia prove their point to Garmin

Photo galleries
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one photo gallery

Cavendish looking for Giro revenge
Armstrong happy with stage four performance
Lovkvist will fight to keep Giro lead
Giro could be last race for Armstrong’s team
Vande Velde crashes out of Giro
Petacchi claims he didn’t know of Cavendish crash
Cavendish struggles to find consolation in pink jersey
Petacchi: I’ve been working out how to beat Cav
I’m wearing pink on behalf of the team, says Cavendish
Wiggins ready to win Giro team time trial
Friday, May 8: Giro news round-up
Cavendish out to topple Garmin in Giro team time trial
Team time trial start times
Cycling Weekly’s Giro d’Italia top ten prediction
Brits in Venice for Giro presentation
Armstrong overshadows overall favourites at Giro presentation
Armstrong confident of finding new sponsor for Astana
Armstrong working to save Astana team
Wiggins in top form for Giro
Garmin Slipstream kitted out for Giro opener
Dan Lloyd gets late Giro call-up
Armstrong’s special Giro bikes unveiled
Daniel Lloyd overlooked for Giro ride
Cummings and Thomas not selected for Giro d’Italia
Cavendish tests Giro form at Tour of Romandie
David Millar confirms he’s riding in 2009 Giro
Bennati to take on Cavendish in Giro 2009 sprints
2009 Giro d’Italia to start in Venice
Evans and Silence-Lotto disagree on Giro 2009 ride
Armstrong to ride 2009 Giro
Tuttosport reveals 2009 Giro d’Italia route
Dolce & Gabbana design new Giro jersey

2009 Giro d’Italia guide and features
Find the pink jersey competition
Giro d’Italia 2009: The Big Preview
British riders to have led the grand tours
CW’s Giro top ten prediction
Brits in the Giro 2009
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish
CW Classic: the 1987 Giro d’Italia

2008 Giro d’Italia archive
Giro d’Italia 2008 coverage index – race reports, photos, results
From rule Britannia to cruel Britannia
Giro 2008: The final word on this year’s race
Brits at the 2008 Giro: photo special
Five days to go, what’s in store?
Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 27)
Giro d’Italia 2008: Rest day review (May 19)
Giro d’Italia 2008 preview

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