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."
Tour de France 2010: Latest news
Sky's objective clear ahead of Tour's high mountains
The Feed Zone (July 10): Tour de France news and views
Thomas: 'Yellow jersey would be unbelievable
Analysis: The role of Renshaw
Cavendish strikes back in Tour de France
Thomas happy with Tour's white jersey; but says 'All for Brad'
Wiggins crashes on Tour stage start
Cavendish and Farrar return to top
Cavendish keeps up fight for first Tour win
Sky delivers Boasson Hagen to third without pressure
Tour de France 2010: Stage reports
Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour's white
Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up
Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour
Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims
Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC
Stage three live coverage: As it happened
Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa
Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters
Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win
Tour de France 2010: Photos
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one gallery
Prologue photo gallery
Tour de France 2010: Videos
Stage seven video highlights
Stage six video highlights
Stage five video highlights
Stage four video highlights
Stage three video highlights
Stage two video highlights
Stage one video highlights
Prologue video highlights
Tour de France 2010: Race guide
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Official start list, with race numbers
Brits at the Tour 2010
Tout team guide
Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins
Tour de France 2010: Pictures
Tour team presentation, Rotterdam
Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special
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