Posted on: May 13, 2009 3:40 pm
 

Lance is not Ready yet

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.
Posted on: May 8, 2009 1:30 pm
 

The Giro d'Italia is 100

The 2009 edition of the Tour of Italy, or Giro d'Italia which turns 100 this year, is set to start on Saturday, May 9, from Venice, with a 12.8-mile team time trial.

It is scheduled to end on May 31, in Rome, after 21 stages and 2,122 miles.

The first winner was Italy's Luigi Ganna, in 1909. The latest winner was Spain's Alberto Contador who will not defend his title this year. The only American to win the race is Andrew Hampsten in 1988.

There are 10 Americans in this year's race: Lance Armstrong, Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer (Astana), Edward King (Cervelo Test Team), Tom Danielson, Tyler Farrar, Danny Pate, Christian Vandevelde, David Zabriskie (Garmin - Slipstream) and Jason McCartney (Team Saxo Bank).

The riders to watch are: Leipheimer, Ivan Basso (ITA-Liquigas), Damiano Cunego (ITA-Lampre), Danilo Di Luca (LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini), Stefano Garzelli (ITA-Acqua & Sapone) , Denis Menchov (RUS-Rabobank), Carlos Sastre (ESP-Cervelo Test Team) and Gilberto Simoni (ITA-S. Diquigiovanni - Androni Gioc.)

Basso (2006), Cunego (2004), Simoni (2003) and Garzelli (2000) have already won the Giro. Sastre won the Tour de France last year. Menchov won the Tour of Spain in 2005 and 2007. Leipheimer and Di Luca have yet to win a Grand Tour.

Armstrong has said repeatedly that he wouldn't be ready for the Giro, since he broke his collarbone during the first stage of the Vuelta of Castilla and Leon race in northern Spain, in late March. He said he would do his best to help Leipheimer capture his first Giro.
Posted on: March 24, 2009 4:41 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2009 4:48 pm
 

Do Not Forget Levi

 This morning, in Palancia, Spain, Levi Leipheimer reminded the cycling world that he was still the best American stage-race rider in the professional peloton.

The Tour of California winner won the second stage of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, a 28.2k-individual time trial in 33 minutes and 17 seconds, to take the overall lead ahead of his teammate and defending champion Alberto Contador.

The Spaniard came in second with a 33:35 time. American David Zabriskie, of the Garmin-Slipstream team was third, 22 seconds behind Leipheimer.

It is only March and many things can happen before the Tour de France in July (just ask Lance), but the first stage, in Monaco, on July 4, could seeLeipheimer don his first career yellow jersey and complicate a bit more the plans of the Astana team.

 

 

Posted on: March 23, 2009 12:35 pm
 

Setback for Armstrong

Lance Armstrong came in 125th position in the 190-mile long Milan-Sanremo one-day classic on Saturday, March 21st, 8'15" behind the winner Mark Cavendish.

"Done with Milan San Remo. What a race! Fast, crazy, but great. My legs felt good. bad position at start of the Cipressa so my day was done."

That's what he posted on his twitter page. You can view it here.

The "Primavera" (the other name of the Milan-Sanremo classic) is not exactly a race for the post-cancer Armstrong. The Armstrong who won the road race at the 1993 world championship in Oslo, Norway had a better chance on the road to Sanremo. He finished the"Classicissima" (yet another nickname for the race) 22nd that year.

But it was part of his preparation for the two main goals he set for this year: the Giro d'Italia in May and the Tour de France in July.

He also entered the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, a five-day race in Spain, this week, alongside Alberto Contador (their first race as teammates), Jesus Hernandez, Levi Leipheimer, Tomas Vaitkus, Benjamin Noval, Jose Luis Rubiera and Haimar Zubeldia.

This stage race, which ends in Valladolid on Friday, would have been a much better indication of Armstrong's form, but he crashed in the first stage and was taken to a hospital. First reports say that he injured his collarbone.

The Giro d'Italia runs from May 9 to 31.

Posted on: March 6, 2009 4:06 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2009 1:05 pm
 

Armstrong is already Impressive

In January, before the Tour Down Under, I wrote that I would be surprised if Lance Armstrong could win the Tour de France again.

I have yet to change my mind, but I must admit that Armstrong has been very impressive in his first two races of 2009 after nearly three years off.

He had a good race in Australia, where he finished less than 1 minute behind the overall winner, Allan Davis, of Australia. Those 60 seconds were mostly time bonuses earned during sprints.

In February, he showed that he could be a great teammate, a "super domestique," during the Tour of California. His Astana teammate and local favorite, Levi Leipheimer won the race for a third consecutive time, thanks mostly to an outstanding performance in the individual time trial.

Armstrong was active in the peloton on the Californian roads, protecting Leipheimer, leading the chase when the team needed it, controlling in the climbs; all that despite a couple of crashes and terrible weather conditions.

But he showed he was still a bit slow in the 15-mile time trial where he lost 1'16" over his teammate. That was his first race against the clock since his last Tour de France in 2005.

It is still early in the season, Armstrong is more than likely going to be competitive in the spring and during the summer. But the question remains: who will Astana ride for in July? Alberto Contador or Lance Armstrong?

 

Posted on: January 15, 2009 4:44 pm
 

Lance Armstrong comes back Down Under

When Lance Armstrong announced he was coming back last summer, my first reaction was skepticism. He will not win the Tour de France again, I thought.

His reasons for getting back into the professional peloton are noble and commending.

He doesn’t do it for money, which would not be outrageous, but “I am a volunteer,” he says.

He doesn’t do it for fame. He won the World Championship road race in 1993 and the Tour de France a record seven times between 1999 and 2005. He has nothing left to prove on a bicycle.

He does it to raise money and promote his foundation “Livestrong,” whose main goal is to fight cancer.

I was skeptical because riding competitively at the highest level, at 37, after a three-year hiatus seemed daring. I thought he could never “The Boss” again.

But later, I read that Armstrong was preparing for his second come-back with the Astana team. That’s when it struck me: Armstrong had come back before, not from a self-imposed retirement during which he ran marathons, but from his death bed. And if he can come back from there and rule the peloton, there is no reason why he shouldn’t be able to come back and be competitive again.

But I would still be very surprised if he could win the Tour de France again, for one simple reason: Alberto Contador.

Contador, of Spain, won the Tour de France in 2007 and the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana in 2008. He is considered by many as the best cyclist in the world today.

The presence of Contador in the Astana team means that Armstrong is no longer the best rider in the squad which is no longer built around him for the three-week race in July.

That may be the reason why he plans on partaking in the Giro d’Italia in the spring. That’s another Grand Tour, one he has yet to win and where the team may be working for him. We'll see.

But for now, Armstrong is in Adelaide, Australia where he is about to compete in the Tour Down Under which runs from January 18-25.

 
 
 
 
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