Saturday, July 23, 2005


TdF Stage 20

RASMUSSEN FAILS. So much was at stake in this individual time trial. Tour organizers must be congratulating themselves for their planning genius. They hoped that placing a 55-kilometer race against the clock would shake up the standings at the midnight hour. It worked. Michael Rasmussen, in second or third place throughout the Tour, crashed twice and limped to the finish line crestfallen; he will finish the Tour in 7th place overall. My heart goes out to Rasmussen. Watching him crash and have to change bikes three times after 19 stages of tenacious leadership effort... I can't imagine how low he must be feeling this evening. He deserves to be remembered as more than a tragic footnote in Tour history.

JAN SAILS. Conversely, Jan Ullrich, who crashed on last year's second individual time trial, stayed very focused. The German powered his way into third place overall with a flawless time trial performance, one worthy of a true champion. Jan, who placed second in the stage, will stand on the podium in Paris with Lance one more time. It will be a fitting end to a long-standing rivalry. Let's see, how many times have Ullrich and Armstrong stood on the podium together?

ARMSTRONG HAILS. But the day belonged to rider who began his unlikely and mind-boggling climb to the pinnacle of cycling with an individual time trial victory in the Prologue of 1999. Lance Armstrong churned his way to one last Tour stage victory, padded his lead, and left no doubt about his power among his fellow competitors. Incredible! He will go out the way he came in--with competitors and fans shaking their heads, wondering, "What was that?! Who was that?!" Meet--and say "so long"--to a Texan named Lance Armstrong.

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