Armstrong gets his stage; disaster for Rasmussen
By Shane Stokes
Lance Armstrong took his first win of 2005 on today's penultimate stage of the Tour de France, racing to an impressive victory in the 55 km Saint Etienne time trial. The Discovery Channel leader recorded a time of 1:11:46 for the distance, beating T-Mobile duo Jan Ullrich and Alexandre Vinokourov by 0'23 and 1'16 respectively.
"I was ambivalent (about getting the win)," said Armstrong post-stage. "I wanted to go as hard as I could, as I always like to do, I wanted to represent the yellow jersey and prove that I was the strongest in the race. But quite honestly I wasn't absolutely sure I could do it. I thought Jan would be strong, and then when I got to the first check I saw that Ivan was seven seconds up. I thought, 'Oh boy, this could be an interesting day.'"
Bobby Julich (Team CSC) was fourth, while team-mate Ivan Basso protected his second place overall in finishing fifth. Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), who started the day third overall, had a disastrous time trial and finished 77th, 7'47 down. He punctured once, crashed twice and had three bike changes in all.
Barring disaster tomorrow, Armstrong looks set to bow out in style with a record-extending seventh Tour win. He's now 4'42 ahead of Basso in the overall standings and 6'21 up on Ullrich. Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears), Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) and Vinokourov complete the top six. Rasmussen plummets four places to seventh as a result of his misfortunes today.