Astana won the team classification at the Giro d’Italia but Lance Armstrong was already in Rome airport when his team mates climbed onto the podium in the shadow of the Coliseum.
Armstrong rushed to Aspen because his girlfriend Anna Hansen was about to give birth to his fourth child.
With the Roman roads still wet from the rain, Armstrong rode a cautious final time trial. He finished 53rd, 1-19 behind stage winner Ignatas Konovalovas (Cervelo) and so was 12th overall at 15-59. Team mate Levi Leipheimer was sixth overall at 5-28.
Armstrong has not talked to the media at the Giro since the protest during the Milan Show stage two weeks ago. He has often tweeted and posted video, and the Astana team issued a press release with his final thoughts on the Giro.
“I came in (to the Giro) open minded. I did not know what to expect, obviously because of the crash in Castilla y León, the time off the bike and the trip over here. In my view it has been a hard three weeks,” he said.
“In the second half of the race I showed that I was certainly getting better and I think we can take that away from here. It is promising for June and July. I may have disappointed some fans and people in the pressroom, expecting that I immediately should start winning big races. That is crazy. I am almost 38 years old. Both of my feet are firmly on the ground. It’s taking a lot of work up to this point but we might ride strong and be in the front in July.”
“The style of racing in Italy is different, but I liked it,” continued Lance Armstrong.
“Despite some dangerous stages, it was a great race. The Giro del Centenario brought us to the most beautiful places of the country. The people here are enthusiastic. In the Giro I spent more time with the fans than with the media. It was cool and fun hanging around with the tifosi.”
Armstrong's Astsna team-mate Levi Leipheimer posed for photographs in front of the coliseum, satisfied with his Giro.
“I am not disappointed. Over the three weeks, there were five guys a bit stronger than me,” he said.
“Basically I decided to do the Giro more out of preparation for the Tour de France. I raced here against riders that were really targeting this race. What makes me happy is that I finished the Giro a lot stronger than last year and that we rode as a real team.”
“Lance Armstrong proved to be a good domestique, but also Steve Morabito, Andrey Zeits, Jani Brajkovic, Chris Horner, Dani Navarro, Yaroslav Popovych and Chehu Rubiera gave me a ton of support. Of course I would have preferred to win a stage. In the historic time trial of Cinque Terre I was very close to it, but already there Denis Menchov was better. Today, I preferred not to take any risks.”
The Giro ended with the future of the Astana team still in doubt. Some wages have been paid but other debts remain. However Team manager Johan Bruyneel is confident the team, in some form or other, will ride the Tour de France and next week's Dauphine Libere and the Tour de Suisse.
“Up to the Giro, Levi was undefeated this year. He has to be pleased with this race and the season he has had so far. A three-week Tour is very exhausting, especially on the mind,” Bruyneel said in the statement.
“I am hopeful and confident that we can ride those races. The financial woes that left salaries unpaid are not completely resolved yet. I hope that the team sponsors will meet the deadline for the bank guarantee and the payments. Moreover the UCI now wants more guarantees about the team for the rest of the year.”
“The UCI will decide soon about the near future of the Team. We hope to know more in the coming days. The best solution is that we can continue with our current structure. I expect that we will have a team at the start of the Tour de France.”
|Giro d'Italia 2009 links|
Stage 21: Menchov wins 2009 Giro; Wiggins second in TT
Stage 20: Gilbert springs late attack to win penultimate stage
Stage 19: Sastre takes second Giro mountain stage; Menchov safe in pink
Stage 18: Second Giro stage win for Scarponi
Stage 17: Pellizotti wins on Blockhaus, Menchov remains in pink
Giro rest day review (May 26)
Stage 16: Sastre wins stage to Monte Petrano
Stage 15: Bertagnolli gifted stage win by Cervelo mix-up
Stage 14: Gerrans solos to win
Stage 13: Cavendish takes his third Giro win and prepares to head home
Stage 12: Menchov storms to Giro TT win and race lead
Stage 11: Cavendish romps to second Giro stage win
Stage 10: Di Luca lays down the gauntlet
Giro rest day review (May 18)
Stage nine: Cavendish blitzes rivals to win in Milan
Stage eight: Siutsou makes it two in a row for Columbia-Highroad
Stage seven: Boasson Hagen takes treacherous stage
Stage six: Scarponi wins longest stage with big break
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
Wiggins: Next stop, Tour de France prologue
Swift in final big break of 2009 Giro
Menchov refuses to celebrate Giro success before final time trial
Di Luca accepts Giro defeat
Di Luca still hoping to snatch Giro lead from Menchov
Wiggins getting ready for final Giro TT
Menchov brushes off boos and doping questions after the Blockhaus
Di Luca promises to fight to the end of the Giro
Garmin at the Giro: And then there were five
Stannard sees Rome after birthday pain
Di Luca out to topple Menchov on the Blockhaus
Bruyneel tips Menchov to win Giro
Giro Britannia: A long, hot slog in Italy
Leipheimer: Lance had to wait for me today (Stage 16)
Millar climbs off and heads home from Giro
Basso discovers he has few friends at the Giro (stage 15)
Froome agonisingly close to stage victory (stage 14)
Cavendish quits the Giro d'Italia
Cheeky Cipo sneaks a ride in the Giro
Cavendish: His most important Giro win yet (stage 13)
Comment: Lance vs the press, some things never change
Menchov's first pink jersey (Stage 12)
Wiggins: 'I went too hard at the start' (Stage 12 TT)
Lance and Levi: Ready for Giro time trial
Cavendish: 'Today brought back memories of San Remo' (stage 11)
Is Di Luca trying too hard, too soon?
Wiggins loses time in the Giro (stage 10)
Armstrong and Basso say sorry for Giro protest
How are the Giro favourites doing?
Cavendish says 'I'm addicted to winning'
Riders stage go-slow protest during Giro stage in Milan
Cavendish cool before Milan sprint
No sympathy for Armstrong from Giro boss
Boasson Hagen celebrates his birthday early
Cavendish overjoyed for Boasson Hagen
Armstrong 'livid' at dangerous Giro stage
Astana riders wear faded kit in protest over unpaid wages
Armstrong sees Leipheimer in pink
Giro news round-up: 14 May
Wiggins: 'I can't keep smashing away on the climbs'
Wiggins eyes top 20 finish overall
Armstrong after Giro stage 5: 'That was hard'
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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