Lance Armstrong said it back in December: “I’m 38, going to be 39 this racing season, so it would be irresponsible to build the team around me.”
He wasn’t lying. In the opening stage of the Criterium International, Armstrong lost five minutes on the Ospedale climb in Corsica. “My day was not very spectacular, I can tell you that, but I couldn’t expect it to be,” said Armstrong.
However, results for the Radio Shack team as a whole were pretty positive, even encouraging. Radio Shack’s Portuguese boy wonder Tiago Machado took second place. While Tour de France super domestique Chris Horner continued his strong Spring with a top ten placing along with up and comer Ben Herman.
In the stage three time trial, a short and technical 7.7 kilometer race around Porto Vecchio, Armstrong was again less than spectacular. He clocked the 15th fastest time, 19 seconds slower than winner David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) and 17 behind arch rival, Alberto Contador.
While noting that he’d improved on recent efforts, he was disappointed. “It was not a consistent time trial with lots of turns, and ups and downs and roundabouts but it was much better than in Murcia, much steadier,” said Armstrong.
Yet as Armstrong had said, the team was deep and highly motivated, Machado and Horner again posted fast time trials with El Pistolero Junior taking third place overall while Horner nabbed 7th.
Perhaps more valuable than the individual accomplishments of Armstrong was the collective strength of Radio Shack. They won second place honors in the team competition at the Criterium International. The squad of Alberto Contador managed just seventh place.
March is a long way from July 3rd and le Grand depart of the Tour de France. But old man Armstrong must be pleased to know the Radio Shack team is headed in the right direction.