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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Lance leads strong U.S. showing so far

In case you haven't noticed, American cyclists hold 5 of the top 17 spots -- and 4 of the top 12 sports -- after four stages of this year's Tour de France.

Thanks to Astana's dominant performance in the Stage 4 Team Time Trial today, Lance Armstrong is virtually tied for the overall lead, just two-tenths of a second off yellow jersey wearer Fabian Cancellara.

Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer is fifth, just 31 seconds behind Cancellara and Armstrong. David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) is ninth at 1:09 back, Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) is 12th at 1:16 back, and George Hincapie (Team Columbia-HTC) is 17th at 1:36 back.

That, along with Tyler Farrar's (Garmin-Slipstream) second-place finish to sprint king Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia-HTC) in Sunday's Stage 2, have made for an amazing start for U.S. cyclists so far.

Armstrong's confidence is high after the Team Time Trial, as he said on the Tour de France Web site:
“I wanted to be one of the strongest in the race. I think that I am. I may not be strong enough to win but I think somebody on this team will win. I know the race and I understand what it’s all about. Yesterday we saw a critical point in the race. It’s the Tour and I know the Tour; I know how to race it and how to be in the peloton… so sometimes it pays to be old and experienced and not young and strong. We’ll see what happens from here but I’ll take it day by day."

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