The Tour de France may have seen the last of Lance Armstrong’s attacks today on the stage to Pau. The American, seven-time winner attempted to ride clear of his rivals on the Col du Tourmalet.
His attempt at 140 kilometres to race was where cycling legend Eddy Merckx attacked in 1969 on an identical stage. Merckx, though, stayed clear for the remainder of the stage and doubled his lead in the overall classification.
Armstrong, five years after his last big win, was not fighting for the overall but only for a stage win.
“I am alive, I tried hard,” explained Armstrong, “I am not the best guy on the race but I still have the spirit of a fighter.”
Armstrong’s rivals were not about to let him go. Damiano Cunego was at the receiving end of Armstrong’s criticism prior to the 2008 Tour de France and today he chased Armstrong on the Tourmalet. Carlos Barredo did the same on the Aspin.
The old boss of the peloton just did not have it.
“Lance Armstrong,” he said, “is over with in about four or five days.”
Losing to Pierrick Fédrigo in Pau just may have been the signal that Armstrong is in fact over with. The stage, ending with a descent, was his last chance to win. The next mountain stage Thursday, following tomorrow’s rest day, ends up the Tourmalet.
Armstrong will be no match to the climbing speed of Andy Schleck and current race leader Alberto Contador.
His team manager and long time friend, Johan Bruyneel, confirmed that Armstrong did not have it for the win today.
“He told me with 15K to go he was tired,” said Bruyneel. “I knew it was going to be difficult.”
Bruyneel will see Armstrong wave goodbye to his fans Sunday when the race ends on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The next time Armstrong could make the headlines may be when he answers to a grand jury over Floyd Landis’ accusations that he dropped during his seven-year reign as Tour de France champion.
“Let’s not forget that there have been investigations for last ten years and they’ve never found anything,” Armstrong said two days ago.
“We’re all going to get a chance to tell the truth.”
Tour de France 2010: Latest news
Schleck-Contador friendship turns sour after chain problem
Wiggins at 2010 Tour: “I haven’t got it”
Basso wins Tour’s acceptance; podium spot next goal
Contador versus Schleck: A game of seconds
Can Cav win without Renshaw?
Hesjedal pushing his way to the Tour’s top
Renshaw disqualification overshadows Cavendish’s win
Charly Wegelius pulls out of Tour
Did Armstrong own a stake in Tailwind Sports, or not?
Cavendish in a ‘must win’ situation for Tour’s green jersey
Millar rides through pain barrier to make time cut
Roche alongside Tour’s top men ahead of Pyrenees
Wiggins to aim for Tour de France stage win?
Dan Lloyd battles on in Tour despite groin strain
Tour de France 2010: Stage reports
Stage 16: Fedrigo takes tough Pyrenean stage
Stage 15: Victorious Voeckler continues fine Franch Tour as Contador takes yellow jersey
Stage 14: Riblon hangs on in Pyrenees to give France fourth stage win
Stage 13: Vino returns to top of Tour after doping ban
Stage 12: Rodriguez wins as Contador attacks
Stage 11: Cavendish bags third stage win but lead out man kicked out of Tour
Stage 10: Cavendish bags third stage win but his lead-out man is kicked out of race
Stage 10: Paulinho claims narrow stage victory on Bastille day
Stage nine: Casar wins stage as Schleck and Contador go head-to-head
Stage seven: Chavanel wins stage and takes overall as Thomas drops out of Tour’s white
Stage six: Cavendish makes it two as Tour hots up
Stage five: Cavendish wins his first stage of Tour
Stage four: Petacchi wins into Reims
Stage three: Hushovd takes dramatic win; Thomas second on stage and GC
Stage three live coverage: As it happened
Stage two: Comeback man Chavanel takes victory in Spa
Stage one: Petacchi wins in Brussels as bunch left in tatters
Prologue: Cancellara pips Martin to win
Tour de France 2010: Photos
Stage 15 photo gallery
Stage 14 photo gallery
Stage 13 photo gallery
Stage 12 photo gallery
Stage 11 photo gallery
Stage 10 photo gallery
Stage nine photo gallery
Stage eight photo gallery
Tour 2010 wallpaper
Stage seven photo gallery
Stage six photo gallery
Stage five photo gallery
Stage four photo gallery
Stage three photo gallery
Stage two photo gallery
Stage one gallery
Prologue photo gallery
Tour de France 2010: Videos
Stage 15 video highlights
Stage 14 video highlights
Stage 13 video highlights
Stage 12 video highlights
Stage 11 video highlights
Stage 10 video highlights
Stage nine video highlights
Stage eight video highlights
Stage seven video highlights
Stage six video highlights
Stage five video highlights
Stage four video highlights
Stage three video highlights
Stage two video highlights
Stage one video highlights
Prologue video highlights
Tour de France 2010: Race guide
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index
Official start list, with race numbers
Brits at the Tour 2010
Tout team guide
Tour jerseys: What they are and what they mean
Brits in the Tours: From Robinson to Wiggins