Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) has regained control of the Tour de France after just one day out of the yellow jersey, finishing second behind Alejandro Valverde (Illes Balears) in today's opening Alpine stage to Courchevel. Armstrong and Discovery Channel used exactly the same tactics that have worked for them in the past, riding a murderous tempo on the last climb with each team member pulling off until only Armstrong remained with Valverde, his teammate Francisco Mancebo, and polka-dotted jersey Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank). All of the GC favourites lost time to Armstrong today, and he now leads Rasmussen by 38 seconds, with Ivan Basso (CSC, 5th today) in third overall at 2'40.
The stage, which was shortened by 11.5 km because of a farmers' protest, saw a breakaway of seven go away almost immediately, with Laurent Brochard (Bouygues), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Yuri Krivtsov (Ag2r), Luís Sanchez (Liberty Seguros), Gianluca Bortolami (Lampre), Mauro Facci (Fassa Bortolo), and Inaki Isasi (Euskaltel Euskadi). The leaders gained 10'40 before Credit Agricole and Discovery worked to bring them back. On the first climb, the Cormet de Roselend, Jorg Jaksche (Liberty) and Oscar Pereiro (Phonak) set off to bridge the by then 4'00 gap, which they succeeded in doing before the start of the last climb.
Jaksche tried to stay away on his own, but it was to no avail as Armstrong's men ripped the peloton to shreds on the lower slopes of the 22 km climb, before he, Valverde, Mancebo and Rasmussen finished off the job with 6 km to go. Armstrong attacked in the final kilometre but couldn't shake Valverde, who came around him with 100m to go to take a clear victory.