Lance Armstrong expects the real time differences to come in three days, when the Tour de France covers the 207.5 kilometres to Verbier. Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner, is eight seconds away from the leader's yellow jersey after 12 days of racing.
"Tomorrow is hard, it is a real stage. The Platzerwasel climb is difficult, even if it is a long way from the finish. But I don't think we will see a change until Verbier," Armstrong said Thursday morning.
Armstrong is third overall behind leader Rinaldo Nocentini and 2007 winner, Astana teammate Alberto Contador. Astana has two other men in the overall: Levi Leipheimer (at 39") and Andreas Klöden (54").
Armstrong attacked on stage three to gain 41 second on his rivals. A strong team time trial allowed him to move 22 hundredths of a second behind the race lead. He lost 21" Friday to Contador, but heads rivals like 2007 winner Carlos Sastre and Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov.
"Some might think that the race is finished for Menchov, but you have to keep an eye on him. If he gains some time in the Alps he could present a problem on Mont Ventoux. I would put Carlos Sastre, the Schleck brothers [Fränk and Andy] and Cadel Evans in one category, clearly they are the most dangerous rivals. The others are just behind."
Armstrong is third overall behind leader Rinaldo Nocentini and 2007 winner, Astana teammate Alberto Contador. Astana has two other men in the overall: Levi Leipheimer (at 39") and Andreas Klöden (at 54"). He leads rivals like 2008 winner Carlos Sastre by nearly three minutes and Giro d'Italia winner Denis Menchov by almost five.
Friday's stage travels through France's Vosges and Haut-Rhin departments. Armstrong's last time in the area was in 2005.
"It was when T-Mobile was so strong and I was isolated, it was a bad day for our team. I generally know the area, but not the specific climbs."
Armstrong won his seventh consecutive Tour de France in 2005 and retired immediately afterwards. He returned to racing last fall, joining his former director Johan Bruyneel at team Astana. This year's Tour is his second Grand Tour since retiring, he finished 12th in the Giro d'Italia in May.