It's difficult to say what Lance Armstrong will be most pleased about after Saturday’s Tour prologue in
Maybe it’s that he finished as the best of the bona fide favourites, coming fourth and losing just 22 seconds to the Swiss maillot jaune Fabian Cancellara, a man who has redefined the art of the race against the clock.
Maybe it’s the fact he beat last year’s defending champion Alberto Contador by five seconds – a man who less than a month ago took the prologue of the Critérium du Dauphiné and six days later won the sixth stage to L’Alpe d’Huez; a pair of performances that reconfirmed his status as outright favourite at the 2010 Tour.
Maybe it’s that three of the people he’ll most rely on in the mountains – Levi Leipheimer, Janez Brajkovic and Andréas Klöden – all finished no more than 15 seconds behind him and in the top 20 riders, elevating RadioShack to the strongest team on paper.
Maybe it’s proof that incriminating allegations by former team-mates do not bother him, even when it is published in a newspaper like the Wall Street Journal.
Maybe it is all of these things. Whatever it is, Team Armstrong will view Saturday, 3 July as a victory of sorts, and will have enjoyed a good night’s sleep.
From a pundit’s perspective, there isn’t too much more we can read into this. But among a load of variables, one thing is certain: We have a race on our hands.