Armstrong takes Tour de France lead; team wins time trial
BLOIS, France (AP) ” Lance Armstrong’s Discovery Channel squad won the team time trial at the Tour de France on Tuesday, handing the six-time champion the yellow jersey as overall race leader.
The 33-year-old Texan led his squad to victory for the third straight year in the time trial, clocking 1 hour, 10 minutes, 39 seconds for the 41.85-mile trek from Tours to Blois. Team CSC was second.
“It’s always nice to be in yellow,” Armstrong said. “There are three or four flat stages coming, so it will not be easy to defend the jersey.”
Team CSC was runner-up, finishing a mere 2 seconds behind.
American rider David Zabriskie of CSC, who had come into the stage in the leader’s yellow jersey, fell less than a mile before the finish.
Zabriskie, his uniform torn and left thigh scraped, fell to ninth overall.
X-rays on his right knee, elbow and wrist revealed no broken bones.
He said he was determined to start on Wednesday.
“Losing like that is like a punch in the stomach,” said teammate Bobby Julich. “David is terribly upset. He feels responsible for losing the yellow jersey. But I told him not to worry about it and that everything he’s done up until now has been really superb.”
Armstrong sympathized with his former U.S. Postal Service teammate.
“The (team time trial) is so hard at the end that everybody’s on the limit, everybody’s a little bit cross-eyed,” Armstrong said. “You come into the city, there’s a lot of turns and you get the whipping wind and it’s easy to make a mistake like that. So I can clearly see how it happened, but it’s clearly a bad one for him.”
Armstrong will wear the yellow jersey for the 67th time in his Tour career. His teammate, George Hincapie, is second overall, 55 seconds behind.
Under overcast skies, the nine-man teams set off one-by-one through the Loire River valley, known for its majestic medieval and Renaissance castles, and through the town of Ambroise where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life.
The Discovery teammates took turns leading the single-file pack of riders.
“It was a very tight matchup as we expected. We kept a good rhythm,” Discovery team director Johan Bruyneel said. “We stayed together. It was a beautiful machine operating.”
The Discovery team set a record for a Tour team time trial with an average speed of 35.54 mph ” easily beating the previous record of 34.06 mph.
Armstrong and Discovery now must decide whether they want to maintain the race lead and the ensuing pressures, or give up the yellow jersey until later in the race that finishes July 24 in Paris.
The riders next embark on three relatively flat stages toward Germany, starting with a 113-mile ride from the Chambord castle to the industrial town of Montargis on Wednesday.
“There’s still a lot of racing to go, a lot of nervous days, anything can happen, crashes here, crashes there, especially the stages in the few days which are tricky,” Armstrong said.
A 42-mile team time trial from Tours to Blois where teams of nine race against the clock.
Lance Armstrong’s Discovery Channel team edged Team CSC by 2 seconds in a thrilling race. Discovery Channel won in 1 hour, 10 minutes, 39 seconds.
Team CSC finished second, 2 seconds behind; T-Mobile placed third, 30 seconds back; Liberty Seguros finished fourth, 40 seconds behind.
Yellow Jersey: Armstrong takes the yellow jersey from Team CSC rider David Zabriskie.
“There’s always somebody who wants your place. Someone coming up who’s younger, stronger and hungrier. I stay nervous and hungry.” ” Armstrong on staying motivated.
Wednesday’s fifth stage is a 113.5-mile leg from Chambord to Montargis, another flat route to favor sprinters.
At Blois, France
1. Discovery Channel, 1 hour, 10 minutes, 39 seconds.
2. Team CSC, 2 seconds behind.
3. T-Mobile, :35 behind.
4. Liberty Seguros, :53.
5. Phonak, 1:31.
6. Credit Agricole, 1:41.
7. Illes Balears, 2:05.
8. Gerolsteiner, 2:05.
9. Fassa Bortolo, 2:19.
10. Liquigas-Bianchi, 2:26.
11. Davitamon-Lotto, 2:32.
12. Rabobank, 2:48.
13. Domina Vacanze, 3:04.
14. Quick Step, 3:05.
15. Bouygues Telecom, 3:08.
16. Euskaltel-Euskadi, 3:59.
17. Lampre, 4:09.
18. Cofidis, 4:28.
19. Francaise des Jeux, 4:46.
20. Saunier Duval, 5:06.
21. AG2R Prevoyance, 5:23.
(After four stages)
1. Lance Armstrong, United States, Discovery Channel, 9 hours, 59 minutes, 12 seconds.
2. George Hincapie, United States, Discovery Channel, 55 seconds behind.
3. Jens Voigt, Germany, CSC, 1:04 behind.
4. Bobby Julich, United States, CSC, 1:07.
5. Jose Luis Rubiera, Spain, Discovery Channel, 1:14.
6. Yaroslav Popovych, Ukraine, Discovery Channel, 1:16.
7. Alexandre Vinokourov, Kazakhstan, T-Mobile, 1:21.
8. Benjamin Noval Gonzalez, Spain, Discovery Channel, 1:26.
9. David Zabriskie, United States, CSC, 1:26.
10. Ivan Basso, Italy, CSC, 1:26.
11. Kurt-Asle Arvesen, Norway, CSC, 1:32.
12. Pavel Padrnos, Czech Republic, Discovery Channel, 1:32.
13. Paolo Savoldelli, Italy, Discovery Channel, 1:33.
14. Jan Ullrich, Germany, T-Mobile, 1:36.
15. Carlos Sastre, Spain, CSC, 1:36.
16. Jose Azevedo, Portugal, Discovery Channel, 1:37.
20. Floyd Landis, United States, Phonak, 1:50.
23. Manuel Beltran, Spain, Discovery Channel, 2:12.
28. Levi Leipheimer, United States, Gerolsteiner, 2:21.
68. Fred Rodriguez, United States, Davitamon-Lotto, 3:57.
103. Christopher Horner, United States, Saunier Duval, 4:54.
142. Guido Trenti, United States, Quick Step, 5:39.
July 2 ” Stage 1, Fromentiere to Noirmoutier-en-L’Ile, individual time trial, 19 km (11.8 miles) (stage: David Zabriskie, United States; overall: Zabriskie)
July 3 ” Stage 2, Challans to Les Essarts, 181.5 (112.8) (Tom Boonen, Belgium; Zabriskie)
July 4 ” Stage 3, La Chataigneraie to Tours, 212.5 (132) (Boonen; Zabriskie)
July 5 ” Stage 4, Tours to Blois, team time trial, 67.5 (41.9) (Discovery Channel; Lance Armstrong, United States)
July 6 ” Stage 5, Chambord to Montargis, 183 (113.7)
July 7 ” Stage 6, Troyes to Nancy, 199 (123.7)
July 8 ” Stage 7, Luneville to Karlsruhe, Germany, 228.5 (142)
July 9 ” Stage 8, Pforzheim, Germany, to Gerardmer, France, 231.5
July 10 ” Stage 9, Gerardmer to Mulhouse, 171 (106.3)
July 11 ” Rest day in Grenoble.
July 12 ” Stage 10, Grenoble to Courchevel, 192.5 (119.6)
July 13 ” Stage 11, Courchevel to Briancon, 173 (107.5)
July 14 ” Stage 12, Briancon to Digne-les-Bains, 187 (116.2)
July 15 ” Stage 13, Miramas to Montpellier, 173.5 (107.8)
July 16 ” Stage 14, Agde to Ax-3 Domaines, 220.5 (137)
July 17 ” Stage 15, Lezat-sur-Leze to Saint-Lary Soulan, 205.5
July 18 ” Rest day in Pau.
July 19 ” Stage 16, Mourenx to Pau, 180.5 (112.2)
July 20 ” Stage 17, Pau to Revel, 239.5 (148.8)
July 21 ” Stage 18, Albi to Mende, 189 (105)
July 22 ” Stage 19, Issoire to Le Puy-en-Velay, 153.5 (95.4)
July 23 ” Stage 20, Saint-Etienne to Saint-Etienne, individual time trial, 55.5 (34.5)
July 24 ” Stage 21, Corbeil-Essonnes to Paris, Champs-Elysees, 144.5 (89.8)
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