No surprise the Saxo Banks’ Swiss time trial champion won the 8.9km run in the rain and drizzle in what the locals call “Waterdam.”
No surprise that the young German, Tony Matin of HTC-Columbia, continues to impress with a second place. A month ago he won the time trial in the Tour of California against the likes of Rogers, Dave Zabriskie and Levi Leipheimer.
Yes, big surprise that the old man himself, Lance Armstrong raced to 4th place — too spots ahead of arch rival and overwhelming tour favorite Alberto Contador of Spain. Not that he’s going to panic in the slightest by giving up five seconds to the seven-time Tour winner.
That’s head-turning news, maybe even bigger than Landis’ latest allegations. The Boss of the Shack was back in business, ready to rock and on form. “I think I’m a little ahead. The testing I’ve been doing, both based in time and on wattage, is where I need to be and we just have to see how the others run,” said Armstrong.
In fact, several of the others did not run so well. Rain was definitely a factor and Bradley Wiggins paid the price of too much clever guesswork. Team boss David Brailsford re-ordered the team start list with Wiggins going first. This was based on Brailsford saying they had “sailor friends” in Rotterdam who knew rain was imminent. Yes, it fell on Wiggins head and made his road slippery while those leaving later, like Armstrong and Basso, benefited from drier roads.
Andy Schleck failed miserably in his Cancellara imitation. Just because you ride in the same Saxo team bus, doesn’t mean that time trial speed rubs off on you. Andy limped in, wet and probably underwhelmed, in 122nd place. Using a complicated mathematical formula developed exclusively for Twisted Spoke, we calculate that’s 121 places behind where Schleck wants to be in three weeks. He’s apparently furious but that’s what happens when you leak news about a new team when you should be focused on your existing one.
Despite the generally gray day and wet conditions, Armstrong was thrilled with the results. “It was a good ride, I felt good, the team looked good, but this is a long three weeks, beginning tomorrow, into the pave, then into the Alps,” said Mellow Johnny.
It’s a long way from Paris but so far Lance Armstrong likes Rotterdam. It’s where he finally discovered his missing time trial skills.
Be sure to check out the new photos I shoot at the prologue here or just go to the bottom of the site for the TS Flickr Gallery.