Mon, Jul 05, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Lance Armstrong has strong race as Tour gets started


Making an emphatic if not victorious start to his record-chasing Tour de France, Lance Armstrong dealt key rivals a psychological blow by leaving them in his wake in the debut time trial on Saturday.

The Texan, seeking to become the first six-time Tour winner, cast off the stress and mummers that he is past his prime by speeding to second place in the 6.1km prologue race against the clock in Liege, Belgium.

Only an exceptional ride by Fabian Cancellara, a Swiss rider nearly 10 years Armstrong's junior, deprived the 32-year-old five-time champion of a place atop the podium and the overall leader's yellow jersey he covets.

"I'm satisfied by the way I felt, but I'm disappointed to lose by only a couple of seconds. That's the way it goes," Armstrong told reporters after a congratulatory kiss from rocker girlfriend Sheryl Crow.

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