Monday, July 6, 2009

Tour de France - Stage 3 Wrap-up

Let the conspiracy theories begin!

When the peloton split with about 30km left in Stage 3, Lance Armstrong made his statement: This team is mine.

With Haimar Zubeldia and Yaroslav Popovych working with Columbia to pull the 27-rider lead group further and further up the road, Lance could probably see the yellow jersey beckoning him following tomorrow’s Team Time Trial in Montpellier.

He finished the stage in 19th place, and ironically now sits 19 seconds ahead of his teammate—the team “leader”, according to DS Johan Bruyneel—Alberto Contador on GC. Yes, the Tour is a 3-week race; and yes, many things can happen from one day to the next. 19 seconds may seem like only a bit of time, but the statement speaks much louder than the standings.

Lance Armstrong will not concede leadership of his team—to anyone.

Tomorrow will certainly be interesting. How will the team react? How cohesive will they ride? Will Contador or someone else actually sprint against Lance to be the first rider over the line? If there’s a flat or mechanical, will the entire team wait?

Other questions remain to be answered, especially: who made the decision to work with Columbia? Lance? Johan? Maybe the post-race comments will make things clearer.

And speaking of Johan, he’s now fully enmeshed in the toughest Tour of his career—and it’s only the 3rd day. He’ll need to be at his best tonight if he hopes to keep this team together.

I’d love to be a fly on the massage table at the Astana hotel tonight.


  1. my thoughts as well...better than Days of Our Lives or As the World Turns...

    aka Randy G.

  2. Great post exactly my thoughts


  3. This is awesome drama for only 3 days in. This Tour looks to be fun to watch. You are correct, Lance could very well be in Yellow tomorrow night. After that the mountains and the TT will be a total toss-up.

  4. Very exciting. Loving the tour so far. How does the team time trial work? How many have to cross the line? What if you aren't with your team?

  5. Good questions, Matt!

    The time for the team is taken when the 5th rider crosses the line, so it's not uncommon to see teams decide that it's okay for certain riders to get dropped--they'll get their own time when they finish. Sometimes team will specifically dedicate a rider or two to go out super-fast in the beginning while the others save themselves for the end.

    However, the only teams that receive their actual times are the winning team and any team that finished within 30 seconds of the winning team. Everyone else receives an incremental time gap in order of finish. This was changed in 2004 to prevent large time gaps. There was a time when a rider could lose upwards of 6 minutes for havng a bad TTT.

    I'll post tomorrow's start times shortly.


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