Armstrong & Eki At GP Eddy Merckx
– Reported by Dan Osipow For Tailwind Sports –
At the GP Eddy Merckx, Armstrong and Ekimov, event winners in 2000, placed fifth, 54 seconds behind the winning duo of Laszlo Bodrogi and Fabian Cancellara of Mapei.
“On paper, Lance and Eki are two of the best time trial riders in the world but at this moment, it was not the best race for them,” said Bruyneel. “They won the race two years ago as they were preparing for the Olympic Games but this year, they entered the race without any specific training. I’m sure the top few teams trained specifically for this event.”
The race marked Armstrong’s final European event of the season.
“For Lance, this has been a very long season,” said Bruyneel. “Since the month of March, when he nearly won the Criterium International (March 31) and almost all the way through the Championship of Zurich (August 18), when he reached the podium, he has been non-stop and on a very high level. He is getting tired. I didn’t expect a lot better (from him). They were close to the podium, but this race was not a huge objective for the team. Our next main objective is the Tour of Spain.”
The USPS duo of Floyd Landis and Dave Zabriskie placed ninth among the 21 teams, finishing 1:30 back.
“They (Landis and Zabriskie) were keeping up with Lance and Eki’s time until five kilometers to go, but then obviously lost some time,” said Bruyneel. “Dave was riding well and it looks like he has recovered from his crash (at the USPRO Criterium Championship on August 18). I think he will be good for the Tour of Spain. It was good to see him do a hard effort and get some of his confidence back after his crash.”