Sunday, July 11, 2010
STAGE 8: 3 CRASHES END ARMSTRONG'S BID TO WIN 8th
A crash with Cadel Evans within the first 6 kilometers of Stage 8. A fall when he got clipped going around a roundabout. And a third tumble trying to avoid another crash at a critical moment at the base of the last mountain climb of the day.
By the time he was back on his bike and pedaling, his rivals were long gone--way up the mountain. Some of his team members escorted him up the climb, but it was clear to Armstrong and to all: his bid to win an 8th Tour de France at the age of 38 was over. You can't make up that kind of time.
He finished the stage over 11 minutes after Andy Schleck won it, after Cadel Evans rolled across 10 seconds later to claim the Yellow Jersey.
Armstrong declared after the stage that the Tour is over as far as his own aspirations for a podium finish are concerned. He was quick to state that he will stay with the RadioShack team in support of teammate Levi Leipheimer. Leipheimer is in 8th place overall and a little over 2 minutes behind Evans.
So, the first pure mountain stage was a game changer. More difficult mountain climbs await the contenders--two more days in the Alps and four mountain stages in the Pyrenees. There will be more crashes. There will be more fireworks. There will be more heartbreak. There will be more glory.
I thought Armstrong demonstrated a good degree of grace, given his frustrations of the day and the loss of much that he has pursued over the past year. Good for him.
Since he is no longer a contender, might he go for one more mountaintop stage win? I'd like to see that.