There are few things more impressive than watching Lance Armstrong in a time trial, a race car engine with legs, tucked in over his bike, pounding out a relentless pace. The race against the clock is a summation of who he is: confident, powerful, driven and perfectionist.
It’s like Jordan shooting a fade-away or Derek Jeter crushing a fastball. After the Shleck brothers knocked him back to 4th after yesterday’s mountain stage, Armstrong fought his way back onto the podium with just Mount Ventoux left. Not bad for nearly 38 with 12 screws in your collarbone. Though he finished the stage 1:30 behind in 16th place, it still gave him an 11 cushion on Bradely Wiggins, who slots in at fourth place overall. It was vintage Armstrong.
Alberto Contador turned in a performance reminiscent of the Texan when he dominated the tours. The Spanish rider showed he’s not only the strongest climber but also one of the best time trialers, beating a surprised and disappointed Fabian Cancellera by three seconds. It sent a forceful message on a day when Armstrong announced the formation of his new Radio Shack team — I’m stronger than Lance, I don’t need Bruyneel and I’ll ride for whatever team I want next year.
As expected, Bradley Wiggins picked up time on rivals Frank Schleck and Andreas Kloden but the odds of him beating Armstrong up the 21 kilometer climb to Ventoux and stealing the final podium stop are slim and zilch. He could easily fall back to 6th after the grueling ascent. Mr. Day By Day appears done.