Tour de France 2010: Armstrong Prepares for Mountain Stages

Lance Armstrong will have his first chance to move up the general qualification standings on Saturday when the Tour de France starts its mountain stages with the Tournus-Station des Rousses seventh stage.

The 165.5-kilometer stage features six low- to medium-range climbs that may finally separate the real contenders from the pretenders. Armstrong is expected to make his move in the coming days after being pushed back in the standings following a flat tire in the third stage that dropped him from fifth to 18th overall. Aside from Armstrong, defending overall champion Alberto Contador is also tipped to move up the rankings in the next few stages.

Swiss rider Fabia Cancellara still leads the overall standings after the sixth stage, which was won by Mark Cavendish of Great Britain in another sprint finish. It was the second-straight stage win for Cavendish, who is not expected to contest for the overall title.

Breathing down Cancellara’s neck is two-time runner-up Cadel Evans, who is only 39 seconds out of the lead. Also within striking distance of the yellow jersey is 2009 runner-up Andy Schleck at 1:09 behind. Contador is 1:40 out of the lead while Armstrong needs to make up 2:30 to win his eighth Tour de France title.