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

Tour de France 2010: Pictures

Tour team presentation, Rotterdam

Tour teams take to the cobbles: Photo special