Armstrong makes winning break but is out-sprinted at the finish line
Watching Lance Armstrong attack the Pyrénées in Stage 16 was like watching the Tour de France champion of old times. The Texan was on top of his game– riding strong and feeling confident– so much so that he gave a friendly push uphill to competitor Damiano Cunego. It was as if he was pushing a baby stroller.
Early in the 124-mile stage from Bagnères-de-Luchon to Pau, Armstrong got into a break of nine riders, including his RadioShack teammate Chris Horner. The group eventually got more than nine minutes ahead of the peloton. It was a brutal stage with 15,000 feet of climbing over four notable mountain passes — the Peyresourde, Aspin, Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aubisque. The crowds along the street cheered Armstrong– recognizing that this was probably his last chance for a stage win. Fans with Livestrong jerseys ran alongside him as he danced on the pedals uphill. The men in the breakaway repeatedly attacked on the climbs, but Armstrong kept up with all of them. No one was going to drop him today.
As much as Armstrong fans would have liked a Hollywood ending, that wasn’t to be. Frenchman Pierrick Fedrigo won the sprint among the breakaway riders. Armstrong just didn’t have the legs after such a tough day in the mountains. But he never lost his sense of humor. “Lance Armstrong is over in about four or five days. I wasn’t the oldest guy in the break,” said Armstrong referring to 39-year-old Christophe Moreau, who is also retiring from cycling this year. Armstrong turns 39 in September. What an excellent ride for an old guy. Chapeau Lance.