Armstrong shows strong in Tour opener despite age and accusations

Lance Armstrong arrived in Rotterdam to show that he is ready to play for the Tour de France’s overall victory. Despite being 38 years old and recent allegations of doping during his career, the American finished fourth behind Fabian Cancellara by 22 seconds.

“Last year, I had the Giro d’Italia, a one-month break and then the Tour. This year I had the crash, but at least I had the races in June. Racing in June, closer to the Tour is a better route for me,” said Armstrong of team RadioShack.

“It’s worked okay. The testing I’ve been doing, both based on time and on wattage is where I need to be and we just have to see how the others run.”

Sky’s Bradley Wiggins took a gamble selecting an early start time, hoping to beat any bad weather and use the warm air to travel faster. A storm moved in, however, and favoured late starters Armstrong and Cancellara.

“It’s one of those moves where you’re either the smartest guy in the room or not,” Armstrong continued. “The thing about it is I did that last year, I went early. There’s two reasons – one you bet on the weather, two you leave early, you get to start eating, you get your massage, you get to be earlier than everyone else. Tomorrow we’ve got 225 kilometres. If you finish two hours earlier than your rivals that’s a good thing.”

Armstrong stared at 19:30, two hours and five minutes after Wiggins. Other favourites, like Geraint Thomas (Sky) and David Millar (Garmin-Transitions), challenged for the win but got soaked in rain showers that hit midway through.

“I haven’t met the guy yet that’s smart enough to predict the weather, so I wouldn’t take that bet,” said Armstrong.

“You can’t forget though that some guys went when it was absolutely soaking wet – that obviously plays a factor into the times and into the results. You’ve got to consider those guys that didn’t have the advantage of the dry corners.”

The Tour de France continues tomorrow with a likely hot stage to Brussels. The mountains start in the second week and the race ends with four hard stages through the Pyrenees.

“It was a good ride, I felt good, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This is a long three weeks, beginning tomorrow, into the pavé, into the Alps.”

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Tour de France 2010: Photos

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Tour de France 2010: Race guide

Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

Official start list, with race numbers

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Tour de France 2010: Pictures

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