Lance Armstrong virtually accepted defeat in the Tour de France after losing 1-35 to team mate Alberto Contador on the climb to Verbier and struggling to stay with the other overall contenders.



The 37-year-old Texan had hoped to at least hang on to Contador’s wheel but did not have the speed on the climb when it really mattered.



It was probably tough for him to admit, but he acknowledged that Contador is now the best Tour de France rider in the world.  



“Now you know who’s the best rider in the world and the best rider in the race. In the past I was the best, now he’s the best,” Armstrong said at the finish.



“Alberto is the best rider. Sure he is the best climber. You know when everybody is at the limit and you can accelerate again, that’s how you win the Tour. I have been there. I definitely suffered, it was very hard, I was at the limit, I no longer have the acceleration and the pace that Alberto has.”

Armstrong happy to play domestique

Armstrong said he will ride for Contador and for the good of the Astana team for the rest of the Tour. His objective is now a place on the podium.



“When somebody has so much pressure on him and shows he is the best you can’t deny it. It would be unfair. As far as I’m concerned, I’m happy to be his domestique. I’m proud of him. So hats off to Alberto and to the Schlecks for a great race today.

“A day like this really shows who’s the best,” Armstrong continued. “For me, that’s reality but that’s not devastating news. As a team, we’re strong. There has been a lot of drama about Alberto and especially in the media but at the end of the day we all sit around the table as team mates, and the last thing we can do is to lose the Tour.”



“It’s clear we have the strongest rider in the race and this is team sport. None of us, Andreas [Kloden] or myself, can think about ourselves, we have to think about the team. If we play it really, really smart, we can have three guys in the top five and the guy who wins. That’s a special opportunity but I think now it’s time for me to put my chances aside. I’m now going to do my best and be a solid team mate.”



“I think after today he demonstrated he is the strongest in the race. I thought I’d feel a little better but I didn’t. There is no point messing around. I gave everything I had and I wasn’t the best.”



“That’s because I haven’t been there for a long, long time. There might be people out there that expect me to ride like I did in 2004 or 2005 but that’s not reality. If I do another year, and I get a season under my belt, maybe I can get that race condition back. But right now, I don’t have it.”

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 LINKS

Tour de France 2009 – the hub: Index to reports, photos, previews and more.

STAGE REPORTS



Stage 15: Contador wins in Verbier as Tour explodes into life



Stage 14: Ivanov wins as Nocentini clings onto yellow


Stage 13: Haussler braves rain for victory in Colmar




Stage 12: Sorensen wins in Vittel as Cavendish goes for green



Stage 11: Cavendish takes fourth win to equal Hoban’s record



Stage 10: Cavendish spoils Bastille Day party to take third stage win



Stage nine: Third French win as contenders content with ceasefire


stage eight: Sanchez wins from break as Tour favourites cancel each other out




Stage seven: Feillu wins at Arcalis, Nocentini takes yellow, Contador leap-frogs Lance



Stage six: Millar’s brave bid denied on Barcelona hill as Hushovd triumphs



Stage five: Voeckler survives chase to win his first Tour stage



Stage four: Astana on top but Armstrong misses yellow by hundredths of a second



Live Tour de France stage four TTT coverage



Stage three: Cavendish wins second stage as Armstrong distances Contador



Stage two: Cavendish takes first sprint



Stage one: Cancellara wins opening time trial

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Tour de France 2009 News Index>>




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Cavendish reveals he is going for green



Tour comment: The suspense is killing us



Analysis: Why Cavendish is one of the modern greats



Radio ban over-turned for Friday’s Tour stage



Arvesen out of Tour with fractured collarbone



Tour analysis: Why the go slow did cycling no favours on Bastille Day



Cavendish’s odd stage 10 finish celebration explained



No radios today, but experiment could be a one-off



Tour audio: Mark Cavendish after stage 10



Contador brushes aside talk of Armstrong conflict



Cavendish odds-on favourite for Bastille Day victory



The Tour de France Comment: Monday, July 13



How the favourites are doing (first rest day)



Wiggins stays with leaders at Tour



Armstrong: ‘If Contador wins, I’ll be second’



Wiggins ‘on cloud nine’ at Tour de France



Armstrong says Contador attack wasn’t in the plan


Cavendish survives the first Tour mountain stage with ease



Wiggins, the Tour de France overall contender, has arrived

EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS



Garmin-Slipstream’s HQ before the Tour



David Zabriskie’s time trial bike



Mark Cavendish on the Tour’s team time trial



David Brailsford interview



Mark Cavendish on the Tour



Jonathan Vaughters on Bradley Wiggins’ chances

TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 PHOTOS



Stage 14 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage 13 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage 12 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage 11 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage 10 photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage nine photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage eight photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage seven photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage four TTT photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson



Stage one photo gallery by Andy Jones



Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson



Team presentation by Andy Jones



Team presentation by Graham Watson

TOUR GUIDE

Tour de France 2009 – the hub

Tour de France 2009: Who’s riding

Tour de France 2009: Team guide

About the Tour de France

FEATURES

Tour de France 2009: Who will win?

Tour de France 2009 on TV: Eurosport and ITV4 schedules

Big names missing from 2009 Tour de France

Tour de France anti-doping measures explained

Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Cavendish

Cycling Weekly’s rider profiles

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  • junepacheco

    your still my idol lance, no matter what, just keep on to reach your goal to be on the podium.Im hope to sse tou again in 2010 as a champion. Good luck lance. May our lord really bless you

  • Tracey Webb

    There speaks a great man! Hats off to Lance I didn’t think he’s be big enough to say that! I’m soooooo impressed.

  • Susan

    Amazing finish. Now it’s on Contador. He has the opportunity to be as gracious and team-oriented in wearing the yellow as this interview of Armstrong’s. Father Time ticks on for us all.