Team Astana Wins 2009 Tour de France Team Time Trial
Lance Armstrong is now very close to taking the overall lead in the Tour de France.
Team Astana today won the 4th stage of the 2009 Tour the France, a team time trial over 39 km in and around Montpellier. In the process of winning today, Lance Armstrong just missed taking another maillot jaune by tenths of a second to Fabian Cancellara (Team Saxo Bank) who has been wearing the yellow leader's jersey since his opening time trial Sunday.
Standing proudly on the podium the nine team riders smiled widely as they accepted their flowers, medallions and the congratulations of an appreciative crowd.
With Cancellara and Armstrong tied, the next three slots on GC all belong to Team Astana with Alberto Contador in 3rd at 19-seconds back, Andreas Kloden 4th at 23-seconds off the pace and Levi Leipheimer rounding out the top five at 31 seconds behind.
Team Garmin-Slipstream and Team Astana were even on time at the first check point, just behind leaders Caisse d'Epargne by seven seconds. At the 2nd time check Team Astana had grabbed the lead and were 23 seconds ahead of Team Garmin-Slipstream. Still in front at the 3rd check point the advantage had gone down to 17 seconds which lasted all the way to the finish line in Montpellier. With Armstrong repeatedly taking incredibly long and very impressive pulls throughout the stage, it was Contador who led through the last rise to the finish line with the clock stopping at 00:46:29 on the fifth man, who just happened to be Armstrong.
Interview with Lance Armstrong after the finish.
Is this a bittersweet victory because of missing yellow?
"Yes and no. We did what we could. That's cycling. We can look at each other and say that we did our best. The most important thing is that we won the stage and took time on the other rivals. I said it earlier to Alberto as well that it is so important that we take time to Evans, Sastre and the others. We were fairly successful. I wouldn't like to be two minutes down right now."
The race was perfect for you and the team?
"We came last week to Montpellier to see the stage. Johan Bruyneel already had the order of riding in his head. We tried that order that day and we did the same today. Like usual, he was right. The result speaks for itself. You always feel that somebody is stronger than you. For me, if I analyze our performance, I would say that Klöden and Popovych were the strongest, but overall the team was consistent. We were smooth. We didn't make any mistakes. No mis-turns, no crashes, no flat tires."
After your return, did you expect to be so close now?
"No. What happened yesterday, you couldn't expect that neither. It's nice to be close, to win a stage, to win an event we like so much. We will see now.
This is a confession: 12 months ago I expected it to be easier, so yes, I expected it. Six months ago I did not expect it any more. I realized that it was harder than I thought. I