Tour de France 2010: Armstrong Falls Short in Pyrenees Bid

Lance_ArmstrongThe scene was familiar, Lance Armstrong taking a solo breakaway at one stretch in the most difficult stage on the Tour de France. Three or four years ago, the result would have been definitely a stage win for the most accomplished rider of his time, but this is 2010 and Armstrong is just a shadow of the man he used to be–at least on the Tour.

Armstrong fought with all his might in the four punishing climbs on the Tour’s 16th stage from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Pau, but in the end, it was clear he was no longer the strongest rider, as he lost in an eight-man sprint to the finish. Armstrong eventually finished in sixth place, but showed he still has the fire inside to fight it out against the other riders. Pierrick Fedrigo took the stage, which has two climbs so difficult they are not even classified, for a third-straight victory for a Frenchman.

After the stage, Armstrong admitted that he indeed lacked the sprinting power to win the stage. “Just not quick enough. I’m not the best guy in the race but I still have the spirit of a fighter. … I wasn’t fast enough in the end. Fedrigo is very fast and he deserves the win,” said Armstrong, who intends to retire after Sunday’s final stage in Paris. “Lance Armstrong is over in about four days,” he said.

Meanwhile, there were no changes in the overall standings, as Andy Schleck failed to get away from Alberto Contador, who still leads the general qualification standings by eight seconds. Contador and Schleck were among a large group of riders who finished 6:45 behind Armstrong’s breakaway group.

The Tour takes a rest on Wednesday and returns on Thursday for the final stage in the Pyrenees, where the riders will summit the highest of point of the race, the Tourmalet pass, for the awarding of the Henri-Desgrange memorial trophy.