Astana team boss Johan Bruyneel said they would prefer to keep Lance Armstrong temporarily out of the yellow jersey if it helps keep the pressure on Saxo Bank’s Tour de France leader Fabian Cancellara.
Armstrong dramatically missed out on the yellow jersey by the slimmest of margins here on Tuesday after his Astana team smashed their rivals in the Tour de France’s fourth stage time trial.
“I think it is good for us not to have yellow as it keeps the pressure on Saxo Bank and Cancellara,” said Belgian Bruyneel. “It would have been nice for Lance to have the yellow jersey, it would have been very symbolic.
“After three years of retirement to be back in the yellow jersey would have been quite a statement. But from our point of view, it is probably better he doesn’t have it.
“I never thought we could take 40 seconds on Saxo Bank as they have a strong team and put in a lot of work in the last two days, they paid for that.”
Astana came over the finish line of the 39km race against the clock 40secs ahead of the Saxo Bank team of Cancellara, who began and finished the race in the yellow jersey.
However Armstrong again showed that he fully intends to stay in contention for an eighth Tour crown.
Armstrong, returning to the race four years after his seventh triumph in 2005, is now second in the overall standings at zero seconds behind Cancellara, missing taking the yellow jersey by just two tenths of a second.
With Astana’s 2007 Tour winner Alberto Contador and Armstrong now challenging for the yellow jersey, Bruyneel says their rivals suffered a significant blow.
Defending champion Carlos Sastre and Cadel Evans are now nearly three minutes behind while Denis Menchov is worse off at 3:52.
“Sure, I am very satisfied with the stage victory,” he said. “I think it is very good for the team’s morale, it’s a team effort and everyone is really suffering together with the same objective.
“So that is very good, we can take a big advantage now on all those other favourites. We have a minute and a half on both Sastre and Andy Schleck, while we have nearly three minutes on Evans.
“The main thing of the day was to keep all the favourites in our team up there and take time off everyone else. That was our mission, to take time off our rivals and not have any accidents.
“Once we saw we had a good chance we were fighting for it, but we didn’t make it a priority before as we didn’t want to risk a crash or any loss of organisation in the end.”
© AFP 2009