The Dauphiné Libéré's third stage time trial in Roanne today saw many of the Tour favourites show their cards in what was considered an important pre-Tour test. Not only Lance Armstrong, but also Santiago Botero, Levi Leipheimer, Floyd Landis, Alexandre Vinokourov, and Roberto Heras all tested their form against the clock. It was a windy stage, with the Mistral blowing the riders from all directions as they negotiated the tough 47 km course.
At the end of the stage, it was 2002 World Time Trial Champion Santiago Botero (Phonak) who claimed his second ever Dauphiné time trial win - he also won a similar stage in 2002. But Botero's margin of victory was only 1 second over American Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), who again showed the benefits of his wind tunnel testing earlier this season to ride into the yellow and blue leader's jersey, with a 12 second buffer over Botero.
Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) had a tough day, conceding 26 seconds to Botero, but clearly showing that he is right on track to defend his title in the Tour de France. He was third in the stage and sits in third overall, and with the mountains to come, eyes will be on him and the other Tour favourites to see how they are climbing.
Speaking of other Tour favourites, Floyd Landis (Phonak, 4th at 39 seconds) and Alexandre Vinokourov (5th at 1'00) had good rides in Roanne as well, while Roberto Heras (38th at 3'32) still needs to tighten up his riding against the clock if he is to challenge for the Tour de France title.