The Reuters global sports blog
Lance Armstrong returned to his favourite stage four years after winning a record seventh consecutive Tour de France and set a respectable time in the opening time trial.
The 18th rider to set off in Monaco, Armstrong clocked 20 minutes 12 seconds for the 15.5-km course to briefly top the standings. He ended up in 10th spot behind Fabian Cancellara in the yellow jersey.
“I was a bit nervous but it is logical,” the 37-year-old told reporters. “What a beautiful race. It was fun. I felt pretty good, overall, I feel good. I was a little bit all over the place.”
It is THE question the Tour de France caravan has been asking in the crowded restaurants of Monaco: Can the returning Lance Armstrong really live in peace and harmony with Alberto Contador, the 2007 winner and the American’s team leader?
Astana team director Johan Bruyneel says there is no rivalry whatsoever between the two riders before Saturday’s start.
Last week, Alberto Contador did not win the Dauphine Libere, a warm-up race for the Tour de France. He finished behind Alejandro Valverde and Cadel Evans and that you might think that would be a big worry with less than a month to go before the Tour starts on July 4 in Monaco.
But it is not.
Valverde’s pat on his back by the end of the last stage even showed it was all good news for the Spaniard.
Pau Gasol’s triumph with the LA Lakers has prompted more articles in the Spanish media celebrating the country’s incredible run of sporting success.
Gasol was a vital cog in the Lakers machine this season and joins a long list of Spanish champions in individual and team sports.
It’s not Lance Armstrong’s first comeback, he has a natural ability to defy the odds, he is in the best possible squad.
That’s what we heard in September when the seven-times Tour de France winner said he was coming back to competitive racing.
Mark Cavendish is being hailed as one of the greatest, if not already the greatest, British cyclist ever in the wake of his remarkable victory in last weekend’s Milan-San Remo classic.
In its 100 editions, only two men, including Eddy Merckx, have won the race at a younger age than 23-year-old Cavendish, who stamped his credentials in emphatic fashion last year when he won four stages of the Tour de France.
On Monday morning, I told one of my colleagues: “Today (on Tour of Castilla y Leon) should be cool. Decisive stage is Tuesday with the time trial.”
It looks like I was wrong.
Around 4.15pm, my telephone went mad, I received dozens of updates on Twitter. What almost never happened, had just happened badly: LA had crashed and broken his collarbone.
Lance Armstrong has said he still has some extra pounds he needs to lose.
After finishing 125th in this weekend’s Milan – San Remo, he faces his own race to be competitive in May’s Giro d’Italia and July’s Tour de France.
It’s not as if he looks like Brazilian soccer player Ronaldo. I saw him at Astana’s training camp in December and I can tell you he was quite fit and was impressive on the bike for someone who had retired more than three years ago.
Alberto Contador reminds me of Rafael Nadal. He speaks softly, he is very polite, some would say he is a kind lad. He is all those things, and, just like Nadal, once he gets on his turf, he is all but a killer.
Contador said before starting Paris-Nice, a race featuring several Tour de France contenders, that he was not here to make his point within the Astana team.
Having your bike stolen is quite a big deal. It has happened to me a few times and I must say I was pretty upset.
As is well known now, the same thing has happened to Lance Armstrong and the only difference is that LA’s bike was worth a good $10,000.