Lance Armstrong will ride off into the sunset come July without having won on cycling’s most feared
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Six-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong came up short in what was his last crack at the fearsome ‘Giant of Provence’, finishing fourth, 37 seconds behind winner Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile) on Thursday’s fourth stage of the Dauphin Libr. “My career has been successful enough – I can’t complain about what it’s given me, about what I have gained from cycling,” a relaxed Armstrong said atop the wind-swept mountain. “Today I wasn’t good enough to win. To win, you have to attack and I was only good enough to react to the others,” said Armstrong, now second overall at 21 seconds back. “I decided to go at my own tempo.” Armstrong lagged back on the lower flanks of the gruelling 19km climb, but recovered well, driving compatriots Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) and Phonak’s Floyd Landis over the steep, final 1.5km push to the summit. More important for Armstrong than winning on the Ventoux was testing himself on the climb ahead of the Tour. Coupled with Wednesday’s time trial effort, when he finished third to winner Santiago Botero (Phonak), the Texan feels like he’s on target for a run at a seventh Tour crown. “I actually feel stronger now than I did a year ago,” Arsmtrong said, referring to his two-minute loss last year to Iban Mayo in the climbing time trial stage. “I’m not here for the overall, but you never know what will happen.” Armstrong said he won’t lose any sleep after failing to add the Ventoux to his bulging palmars. In 2000, in what was his best chance to win, he “gifted” the stage to Marco Pantani in a controversial gesture, while Richard Virenque went away in a suicidal breakaway to hang on in 2002.