2010 Tour de France: Armstrong Starts Strong

Lance Armstrong kicked off his last Tour de France on a high note as he finished inside the top five in the Rotterdam prologue on Saturday. Armstrong completed the 8.9-kilometer prologue in 10 minutes and 22 seconds, enough to land the seven-time winner in fourth place.

Olympic time trial gold medalist Fabian Cancellara, as expected, easily won the prologue with a time of exactly ten minutes. The Swiss cyclist was followed by Germany’s Tony Martin and David Millar of the United Kingdom. Defending overall champion Alberto Contador of Spain was five seconds behind Armstrong at sixth place.

Armstrong, who announced that this year’s Tour de France would be his last, said he was surprised with his performance in the prologue. “In my heart it was a surprise.”

While the first race of the three-week Tour was bereft of drama, the International Cycling Union provided one after the stage, as officials inspected 14 bikes on suspicion of having motors. The X-rays of the bikes turned out negative. Cancellara, whose bike was one of those inspected, said what the ICC did was “ridiculous.”

The tests were carried out after reports of motorized cheating reached the ICC following Cancellara’s impressive results at Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders.