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Mr. Laz
07-03-2005, 04:29 PM
On a Flat Stage 2, Armstrong Holds His Position


By SAMUEL ABT
Published: July 3, 2005
LES ESSARTS, France, July 3 - Lance Armstrong showed up for work in the Tour de France today in the jersey of a leader although it wasn't the jersey he wanted and it wasn't really his anyway.

Because he finished second in the opening individual race against the clock on Saturday for the second successive year, and once again by two seconds, Armstrong sported the green jersey of the points leader rather than the yellow jersey of the overall leader.

He seemed blasé about the color as the Tour took to the road en masse and he resumed his quest for a seventh successive victory. No matter how he felt about the green jersey, which he wore because somebody had to, he lost it at the end of the stage, 181.5 kilometers, or 113 miles, from Challans to Les Essarts in sunny and hot weather.

"It was a typical opening day on the road," he said, "some crashes, pretty boring."

This was not the day for Armstrong to hope to continue to crush his rivals. Except for one small climb, the topography through charmless towns and fields was flat, favoring a gang sprint and a long, unbroken line of riders in the same finishing time.

Following the script, the stage was won by Tom Boonen, a Belgian with Quick Step and the current king of the one-day classics. He finished comfortably ahead of Thor Hushovd, a Norwegian with Crédit Agricole, with Robbie McEwen, an Australian with Lotto, in third place.

The winner was timed in 3 hours 51 minutes 31 seconds, a speed of 47 kilometers an hour. Twenty-two other riders who duked out the sprint were given the same time, with the main pack, including Armstrong in a meaningless 63rd place, five seconds behind.

By winning, Boonen picked up 35 points, more than enough to unfrock Armstrong.

The leader of the Discovery Channel team was merely a pretender in any case.

Dave Zabriskie, an American with the CSC team from Denmark, actually had the right to wear the green jersey since he won the opening time trial on Saturday. Because no rider may wear two jerseys, he naturally preferred to wear the yellow one that also came with his victory.

But just to wear it in the race, insisted Zabriskie, who is unaccustomed to the spotlight and can be tongue-tied even in the shadows. "I did not sleep in the yellow jersey," he said more than once this morning, although nobody asked.

Zabriskie admitted that he was excited while also pointing out that he was simply a support rider. "I'm here to help Ivan Basso," the team's leader and the third-place finisher in the last Tour, Zabriskie said.

He finished 71st in the finale in Les Essarts and remained the Tour's leader by two seconds over Armstrong. Laszlo Bodrogi, a Hungarian with Crédit Agricole, jumped up two places into third over all.

Rausch
07-03-2005, 04:39 PM
At this point saying Lance is kicking ass isn't even a spoiler....