Armstrong of old reasserts control

News & Results

07/12/2005| 0 comments
by David Cohen
Armstrong vaulted once again into the yellow jersey by finishing a close runner-up to Illes Balears' Alejandro Valverde in a final sprint. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Armstrong vaulted once again into the yellow jersey by finishing a close runner-up to Illes Balears' Alejandro Valverde in a final sprint. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Armstrong of old reasserts control

The king lives!   All hail the king!

 

The king lives!   All hail the king!

 

Lance Armstrong demonstrated the form Tuesday that has made him the winner of the Tour de France six consecutive times.

 

Impassioned, ferociously concentrated, Armstrong vaulted once again into the yellow jersey by finishing a close runner-up to Illes Balears? Alejandro Valverde in a final sprint capping the 10 th stage at Courchevel.

 

 

Armstrong reassumed the race leadership with 38 seconds on runner-up Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) of
Denmark
and 2.40 on CSC?s Ivan Basso in third.

 

Clearly, the day belonged to Armstrong and Discovery Channel, which set a blistering pace up the last climb, a 22-km slog at a 6.2% grade.   Earlier doubts about the team were laid to rest, especially by the gutsy performances of George Hincapie and Yaroslav Popovych, who stayed with Armstrong the longest on the final climb.

 

Discovery?s killer pace took its toll, notably on T-Mobile?s Alexandre Vinokourov.   Vinokourov lost contact surprisingly early in the final climb and when he did, it clearly inspired Armstrong and his Discovery teammates to turn it up an extra notch.  

 

Jan Ullrich also lost contact but fought gamely to minimize his losses.   He now lies at behind Armstrong in the General Classification.

 

With Armstrong clearly on form in the first
Alps stage, should we be readying the number seven to put beside his name in the annals of Tour victors?

 

Not quite yet.

 

Interestingly, Armstrong never was able to shake the three men who finished in a group with him.

 

 

On Tuesday?s evidence the ?strong men? in the 2005 Tour are Armstrong, Rasmussen, Valverde and Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), the man with the ungainly bike style who always seems to be suffering.

 

Before the race, Valverde and Mancebo, if not overwhelming favourites, were among a group of riders who were worth watching as possible wearers of the yellow jersey in
Paris
.

 

But Rasmussen, the great Dane who rides for Rabobank, was not mentioned as a General Classification threat.

 

He came to the Tour with an outside chance of being the King of the Mountains; he now can be mentioned as a legitimate podium contender, trailing Armstrong by a mere 38 seconds.

 

After an amazing solo win in the 9 th stage from Gerardmer to
Mulhouse
, Rasmussen certainly had the legs to stay with Armstrong and the others Tuesday.  

 


Armstrong will have to watch Rasmussen, but no one should discount Basso as a contender.   He couldn?t stay with the lead group Tuesday but he, like Ullrich, fought to minimize his losses.  

 

And then there?s Valverde.   He?s spoken of mostly in the future tense. ?His time will come,? go the predictions.   But, on Tuesday?s performance, there may be a possibility that Valverde?s time has already arrived.   He appears to be the complete package?an all rounder who climbs superbly and, as he demonstrated Tuesday, can sprint as well.

 

Clearly Armstrong and his Discovery Channel mates performed

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