Showing he is worthy of a Tour comeback, Lance Armstrong is moving his way up the chart toward the yellow leader’s jersey. After today’s team time trial, Armstrong is in second place just a fraction of a second behind Fabian Cancellara. Armstrong’s team Astana won the 24-mile race in 46-minutes, 29-seconds. The course was technical; more than a dozen cyclists fell on the narrow roads through Montpellier, including Russia’s Tour contender Denis Menchov who won the Giro d’Italia in May. Isn’t there a saying, “when champions fall?” By the end of Stage Four, the Kazak-sponsored team Astana has six of its nine Tour racers in the top 11 spots in the GC (General Classification). Alberto Contador, Armstrong’s teammate and possibly fiercest competitor, is in third place.
Now, you may be asking, what’s with the Flash Gordon helmets? Yes, they are true geek-wear but also aerodynamic, so they help the cyclists ride faster. Teams spend lots of money designing flashy gear like this to win races. You won’t find one on America’s Top Model. Or maybe?
What’s a Time Trial?
The time trial is a race against the clock. There are two individual time trials and one team time trial in this year’s Tour. In today’s stage, all nine members of the team start together and go as fast as they can by rotating turns at the front of their paceline, so their teammates can draft out of the wind behind them. Several minutes pass before the next team starts. This continues until all 20 teams have left the start gate. At least five of the team’s nine riders must complete the race in order for the team’s time to count, and the timeclock is stopped when the fifth rider’s wheel crosses the finish line.
–Le Tour Babe