Armstrong And Team Astana Take Fourth Stage Of The Tour De France

July 8, 2009

The association of Lance Armstrong and the yellow jersey at the 2009 Tour De France seemed unfathomable – until today. Armstrong needed to make up 40 seconds on Fabian Cancellara of team Saxobank to claim the yellow jersey – an unlikely result according to Armstrong and considering the strength of Saxobank.

Yet, only 9km from the finish line, Armstrong was in the lead by one second, and practically had the yellow jersey in hand.

Stage four was a technical 39km team trial race in Montepellier, sure to create carnage according to Armstrong. His forecast proved accurate, as several accidents occurred throughout the day, including one crash with riders from team Rabobank, and another involving four riders from team BBox Bouygues Telecom.

Each team receives a time based on the fifth rider to cross the finish line. Coming into today’s stage, Armstrong sat in third place – 40 seconds out of first place and the coveted yellow jersey.

Fabian Cancellara, the first place and yellow jersey rider entering today’s fourth stage, carried his team on his shoulders by leading them to the finish line and earning back that single second Armstrong needed to gain the yellow jersey. It was a courageous and deserving performance by Cancellara, who did not have nearly the firepower of Armstrong’s team Astana.

Team Garmin-Slipstream, one the stage favorites, produced a quality performance as well.

Garmin began the time trial at such a blistering a pace that they quickly lost their sprinters, Julian Dean and Tyler Farrar. They would later lose more riders and only had five riders for most of the stage. However, Garmin dug deep and rallied to finish the race at an average speed of 50km/hr, beating team Liquigas by 40 seconds. In doing so, they place Bradley Wiggens in sixth place overall for the Tour.

But the real story of the day was Armstrong and his team Astana.

At the 10km mark, Astana was equal with Garmin and 12 seconds ahead of Saxobank. Then, at the 19.5km mark, Astana had the best time and the yellow jersey appeared within reach.

After starting the day with a 40 second deficit, Armstrong had now narrowed the margin to only 2 seconds.

At the 30.5km mark, Astana increased its pace and was ahead of Saxobank by 41 seconds. As a result, Armstrong became the virtual leader by one second.

With Armstrong leading the charge, Astana pushed to the finish, winning the stage with the fastest time of the day – exactly 40 seconds ahead of Saxobank. Cancellara maintained the lead and the yellow jersey by a fraction of a second.

Armstrong won’t have to wait long to capture his 84th yellow jersey. He sits in second place overall in the Tour with no time gap between himself and first-place Cancellera.

Armstrong’s Astana teammates, Alberto Contador, Andreas Kloden, and Levi Leipheimer maintain third (19 seconds behind), fourth (23 seconds behind), and fifth place (31 seconds behind) respectively.

By Sunil Patel
Staff Reporter for

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