Armstrong yet to endorse Contador as leader
  June 23, 2018 Login  

Current Articles    |   Archives    |   RSS Feeds    |   Search

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Armstrong yet to endorse Contador as leader

by Agence France-Presse at 3:34 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Lance Armstrong endured his first testing day of racing on his return to the Tour de France before avoiding a potentially dangerous finish among the safety of the main peloton.

The 37-year-old was given the same finishing time of 4hr 30mins 02secs as Mark Cavendish, who claimed victory over the 187km stage between Monaco and Brignoles as temperatures went close to 40 degrees celsius.

Having finished 10th in Saturday's time trial around Monaco, Armstrong remains in the same position overall and says he achieved his objective of staying out of trouble in Sunday's sweltering conditions.

"Days like today are incredibly hot and hard for everyone," said Armstrong.

"I just wanted to avoid trouble and get into the rhythm of the race, because yesterday's time trial wasn't really a normal stage.

"We had an important day here and then we are on our way to the Pyrenees."

After such a narrow finish, opening stage winner Fabian Cancellara retained the yellow jersey for Monday's 196.5km stage from Marseille to La Grande-Motte.

Almost pancake flat at the end, that stage is likely to finish in another bunch sprint.

But a day later Astana, whose main yellow jersey contender, Alberto Contador, is only 18secs off Cancellara's pace, may take command of the race after a 39km team time trial around Montpeller.

The question is whether Saxo Bank's efforts in defending the jersey in such heat has zapped any of their energy reserves.

Armstrong added: "Saxo have quite an advantage and they will be strong.

"They have had to do some work here, which might take something out of them."

Still 40secs behind Cancellara, Armstrong said the time is not concerning him at this early stage of the quest for the yellow jersey.

"It's not a problem for me," he said with a grin.

After nearly four years away from the Tour, cancer-survivor Armstrong admitted he was struggling to feel at home back in the race he has won seven times in a row.

A shoulder injury suffered in March at the Castille y Leon stage race limited his preparation for this year's Tour, but he returned to claim a respectable 12th overall at this year's Giro d'Italia.

"It's hard to throw myself back into competition, those who rode the Tour of Switzerland seem to be in better position," he said.

"But I think competing in the Giro really helps, especially the last week."

Armstrong is keeping his Astana team's yellow jersey rivals guessing by refusing to officially endorse Spanish ace Alberto Contador as their definitive team leader.

And 2007 Tour winner Contador, who finished 58th in the peloton here, said the heat was becoming a factor.

"The temperature is becoming a real problem," said the Spaniard, who stamped his yellow jersey credentials on the race by leaving all of his main rivals in his wake on Saturday.

"Ten minutes after the race finished, I was still very hot and sweating."

Tuesday's team trial is important, but it is also important we get through Monday's stage without any problems or risks.

"I am pretty relaxed, my form is good and I feel fine."

Astana have a total of four riders in the race's top ten - Andreas Kloden of Germany, runner-up in 2006, is in fourth while Levi Leipheimer, third overall in 2007, is still sixth.

Subscribe via RSS or daily email

  Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy  Copyright 2008-2013 by VeloNation LLC