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Beyond the Peloton


July 3, 2010 11:55 AM

Armstrong Sends an Early Message

To no one's surprise, Fabian Cancellara won the Prologue by a whopping 10 seconds. But the big winner, at least in terms of psychology, is Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong finished fourth in the short prologue, 22 seconds behind Spartacus. But he's now the leader among major GC contenders, as the top three finishers are all time trial specialists. Armstrong leads his archrival Alberto Contador by five seconds, but as for the other major contenders not on Team Radio Shack, the prologue already produced major carnage.

Here's where they stand in relation to Armstrong:

Contador (Astana), 5 seconds behindNetherlands_Cycling_628352l.jpg
Levi Leipheimer (Radio Shack), 6
Andreas Kloden (Radio Shack), 14
Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana), 16
Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas),16
Cadel Evans (BMC), 17
Carlos Sastre (Cervelo), 32
Ivan Basso (Liquigas), 33
Bradley Wiggins (Sky), 34
Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), 35
Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), 47

The Schleck brothers' inability to produce a respectable time trial will prove their undoing at this Tour, even though there is only one individual time trial the rest of the Tour, in the penultimate stage. To lose nearly a minute, as Andy did, in about a 10-minute ride is simply mind-boggling.

If anything Armstrong, has served notice that he may very well have the legs to win this Tour, with sufficient support from his team. Both Leipheimer and Kloden also appear on form in the prologue, which bodes well for Radio Shack.

Preview of Stage 1 (Rotterdam to Brussels)

A stage flat as a pancake with a long straightaway finish should favor the sprinters. For the GC contenders, the goal is to stay out of trouble on some of the narrow roads and pay homage to Eddy Merckx, as the route takes them through the Cannibal's hometown Meise.

Prediction: Mark Cavendish (Great Britain, HTC-Columbia) to win his first of many sprint duels. Cancellara to keep the yellow jersey.

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