Lance Armstrong started the 4th stage of the 92nd Giro d'Italia, the first of two in the Alps, 31 seconds behind the overall leader, Alessandro Petacchi, who built his lead thanks to the bonus time he earned on the finishing line when he won the 2nd and 3rd stages.
Tonight, after two summit finishes in the Dolomites, Armstrong is trailing the new overall leader, Danilo Di Luca, by 3 minutes and 34 seconds. He lost most of his time in the final ascent of stage 5, up to Alpe de Suisi, where he crossed the finishing line in 35th position, 2 minutes and 58 seconds behind Denis Menchov, the stage winner.
One thing is clear now, Armstrong is not capable of keeping up with the best in the mountain yet. Whether he will be ready in two months, in the Tour de France, is another question.
The next big unknown is how he will perform next Thursday, in the long (nearly 38 miles) and hilly individual time trial from Sestri Levante to Riomaggiore.
The seven-time Tour de France winner is unlikely to win his first Giro this year, but it may turn out to be the preparation he needed before the Tour.
In the meantime, keep an eye on Armstrong's teammates, Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner, who are currently 4th and 8th in the overall standings, 43 seconds and 1 minute and 17 seconds behind Di Luca.