As expected, much of the focus on the first day of the Tour de France was on the returning seven-time winner, Lance Armstrong. With the possibility of showers later in the day the American elected to start early, and went off number 18 – at 4:18 p.m., almost three hours before the final, seeded riders. He set the leading time at one stage, clocking 20:12 at the finish line but eventually dropped to tenth, 40 seconds behind stage winner Fabian Cancellara.
Armstrong looked strong, if not entirely at ease on his bike – an impression he confirmed after his ride. "It was very technical and hard to find a good rhythm," said Armstrong. "I’m four years away from racing, I haven’t raced since the Giro, and I did the best I could.
"The best way to sum it up is that I had fun," he continued. "I was feeling pretty good, but I didn’t expect to win or take yellow."
Armstrong admitted that he had felt “a little nervous” before the start. "I didn’t feel comfortable [on the bike]. It’s a long time since I had those good sensations, but I felt like I knew the course well.
"I’m happy," he added, "I’m having fun. Even if I can’t win, I’m having a good time, and I’m happy to be here."