The old days of Lance Armstrong’s team controlling the Tour de France are over. His RadioShack team suffered at the hands of Saxo Bank in Tuesday’s stage three to Arenberg, letting Andy Schleck’s Saxo Bank hammer at the head over the cobbled roads.
Without RadioShack at the front, Armstrong was vulnerable to losing time to crashes or mechanicals. In sector four, Sars-et-Rosières, disaster struck. Andy Schleck’s brother, Fränk, crashed and held up Armstrong. Unlike many other favourites, though, Armstrong lost further time to a punctured tyre.
When Armstrong ruled the Tour de France for seven years (1999 to 2005), he kept his US Postal/Discovery Channel team on the front at all times to avoid such mishaps. Today, though, RadioShack showed it lacked strength or perhaps lacked faith in their leader’s ability.
“That’s just the nature of the sport,” said Armstrong. “Some times you’re the hammer and sometimes you’re the nail. Today I was the nail, but I had plenty of days where I was the hammer.”
He continued to rattle off clichés, perhaps preparing for a political career. First though, he plans on fighting for Tour de France win number eight, making up his one minute and 21 second deficit to Schleck.
Armstrong said, “I am not going home.”
Tour de France 2010: Latest news
Thomas in tour’s white jersey; Wiggins gains time
Evans and Schleck gain in Tour’s hell of the north
The Feed Zone: Tour news and views (July 6)
Vande Velde abandons Tour following crash
Andy Schleck has a laugh after stage two crash
The Feed Zone: News and views (July 5)
Sky banks on Thomas ahead of cobbled stage
Cavendish’s sprint train weakened with Hansen out
Armstrong under fire as Landis allegations reach mainstream
Team Sky’s decision to put Wiggins off early back fires
Tour de France 2010: Stage reports
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: 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