Prologue Report: Armstrong Sets Standard
Feeling relaxed, clearly enjoying himself, and motivated by the watchful and admiring eyes of his wife, family, and thousands of cycling fans, Lance Armstrong threw down the gauntlet today by streaking to a dominating victory in the opening 7km prologue of the 2002 Tour de France.
Under the constant threat of rain, the peloton lined-up one by one in the start house in Luxembourg to begin their three week journey around France, and the annual test of mental & physical stamina chasing one of the greatest prizes in all of sport – you know it – the “maillot jaune”.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the second place finish of CSC-Tiscali’s 36 year old Laurent Jalabert, who showed again that the grand Tours really are made for men and not boys. Jalabert stunned the race as he blitzed in to claim the lead and hold it until only Armstrong crossed the line.
Also surprising in 3rd place was Lampre’s former World Champion Raimondas Rumsas, riding his first TdF. His team manager “Bepe” Saronni had stated earlier this week that Rumsas is on great form and they have high hopes for him in France.
Rounding out the Top 5 were Kelme’s Santiago Botero (4th) who has been flying and could be the next great Columbian rider, and Cofidis’ British hope David Millar in 5th.
Other notable performances were:
Dario Frigo who played a major role in the Giro – 7th at 0:08
Joeba Beloki – 3rd overall last year- 9th at 0:13
Tyler Hamilton – 16th at 0:16
Levi Leipheimer – 18th at 0:16
Richard Virenque – 22nd at 0:18
The real racing starts tomorrow with 195km in Luxembourg, and several stages for the sprinters. It’s unlikely we’ll see US Postal work too hard to keep the yellow jersey, as Armstrong is too smart to waste his team this early in a three week race and no one can argue with his knowledge of how to win this race.
Be sure to check back throughout the day as we post more news from Europe and our correspondents, and check our RESULTS section for the latest standings.