Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

A great result for Zabriskie – and Armstrong

By blasting away his main overall rivals in the stage 1 time trial Saturday, Discovery Channel's Lance Armstrong wiped away any lingering suspicion that he has come to the Tour de France short on form. Now, his goal of taking a seventh consecutive title already looks a lot closer. He may have finished two seconds shy of winning the 19km race against the clock from Fromentine to Noirmoutier-en-I'Ile, but losing the stage to former teammate David Zabriskie of CSC was no disgrace. The 26-year-old from Salt Lake City completed his ride in a blistering 20:51. That's an average speed

Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.

Defending champ catches and passes biggest rival

By Rupert Guinness

Zabriskie en route to victory

Zabriskie en route to victory

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

By blasting away his main overall rivals in the stage 1 time trial Saturday, Discovery Channel’s Lance Armstrong wiped away any lingering suspicion that he has come to the Tour de France short on form. Now, his goal of taking a seventh consecutive title already looks a lot closer.

He may have finished two seconds shy of winning the 19km race against the clock from Fromentine to Noirmoutier-en-I’Ile, but losing the stage to former teammate David Zabriskie of CSC was no disgrace. The 26-year-old from Salt Lake City completed his ride in a blistering 20:51. That’s an average speed of 54.676 kph, the fastest individual time trial in Tour history other than the 55.152 kph recorded in a 7.2km prologue by Chris Boardman in 1994.

Zabriskie’s average speed bettered the 1989 record of 54.545 kph by American Greg LeMond on the last stage from Versailles to Paris where he secured his historic eight-second Tour victory over Laurent Fignon.

Armstrong overhauls Ullrich

Armstrong overhauls Ullrich

Photo: AFP

But as impressive as Zabriskie’s ride was today, it didn’t stop talk within the Tour focusing on the feat of Armstrong — who didn’t have the benefit of a slight cross-tail wind enjoyed by Zabriskie on the point-to-point course across the pancake-flat island of Noirmoutier.

“I didn’t come to ride the Tour. I came to win,” said Armstrong, who will retire as soon as the 3607km Tour comes to an end in Paris on July 24. “I wanted to show I am committed to the race. I think today I showed that.”

Even Armstrong’s shrewd directeur sportif on the Discovery Channel team, Johan Bruyneel, was startled by the result.

Vinokourov may be T-Mobile's leader, after all.

Vinokourov may be T-Mobile’s leader, after all.

Photo: Graham Watson

“It’s unbelievable what he did,” he said. “Zabriskie was my favorite before the stage and merits the win. But we are very happy with our operation. The time Lance got today is very, very good. It will count in the end.”

Armstrong’s power punch today came in the handsome margins he got on the overall contenders who have come here intent on ruining his fairytale retirement party by throwing their all into a Tour victory. Making it all the more amazing was that he did it in the humid 70-degree weather, despite pulling his right foot from the pedal as just after he left the start ramp — a duplication of a similar scare in the prologue time trial at last month’s Dauphiné Libéré.

Hincapie rides into fourth place

Hincapie rides into fourth place

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

“I don’t know how it happened,” said Armstrong commenting on Saturday’s incident, “but I got [the foot] back in faster than in the Dauphine. It’s got to stop happening.”

The Texan’s effort saw him three seconds behind Zabriskie at the 9.5km mark, three seconds ahead after 15km, and two seconds back at the finish. In the end Armstrong dealt as hard a blow to his rivals’ morale as it did to their GC time. The best of his considered main opposition, finishing third 53 seconds behind Zabriskie, was Kazakhstan’s Alex Vinokourov (T-Mobile), followed by another of Armstrong’s former teammates in American Floyd Landis (Phonak)who finished in sixth place at 1:02.

Commenting on Landis’s ride, Phonak team manager John Lelangue told VeloNews, “He started a little slow, but once he found his rhythm he did not lose any time by the end. Sixth is a ride we can feel satisfied with. It’s a good result for Floyd, especially if he can keep this position until the team time trial on Tuesday.”

But from there the story of sub-par rides by Armstrong’s challengers — who now look more like pretenders rather than contenders — was devastating. The most humiliated on prime-time television was Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile), the 1997 champion, who was 12th at 1:08. More significantly, Armstrong caught the German for a minute and blasted pass him with 4km to go.

Ullrich, who may have been feeling the after-effects of his crash on Friday, when he rode head first into the back window of his team car, glanced to his right as Armstrong powered by on the flat stretch of road.

Leipheimer

Leipheimer

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

“I gave it everything I could, but of course I didn’t expect to be caught by Lance. This has never happened to me before and it’s not great for my morale,” said.

“I didn’t feel that bad,” said Ullrich. “But to get passed by Lance … that was not a nice feeling. Maybe it has something to do with my crash. At least the Tour has started. All is not lost. I will keep fighting.”

Armstrong, while admitting he was “hungry” for the win, concurred with Ullrich’s suspicions, telling observers, “I can’t look to much into it. He had a pretty serious crash. You don’t know how much it affected him.”

The other overall heavy hitters who fell short of expectation today were American Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), 14th at 1:13; Italian Ivan Basso (CSC), 20th at 1:26; Colombian Satiago Botero (Phonak), 25th at 1:30; Australian world time trial champion Michael Rogers (Quick Step), 45th at 1:53; German Andreas Klöden (T-Mobile), 51st at 2:01; and another of Armstrong’s former U.S. Postal Service teammates, Spaniard Roberto Heras of Liberty Seguros, 79th at 2:20.

The worst of an extremely bad bunch was another Spaniard, the Basque favorite Iban Mayo (Euskaltel), who finished 175th from 189 starters conceding more than three minutes to Armstrong. His was a performance that showed no gain from the state of the art high-tech Orbea time trial bike that had been specially made for him — not that he blamed anything for his poor ride.

“I don’t have any explanation,” said Mayo. “But I didn’t have any problems with the bike or my health. I just couldn’t go when I had to. I don’t want to just give up, but it’s a lot of time for me to make up.”

WINNERS ARE GRINNERS
While the day was regarded as a victory for Armstrong, it was an enormous victory for Zabriskie, who was making hisTour debut. His win was aided by the fact that he rode with a slight cross tail wind from the southwest; but general consensus was that his was a brilliant ride. His ride also established Zabriskie as one of the world’s top time trialists, following his solo stage win at the 2004 Vuelta España and TT victory at the 2005 Giro d’Italia.

But, more importantly, it will see the modest Utahn start stage 2 in the yellow leader’s jersey and in first place in the green jersey points competition. “The feeling is amazing, unbelievable. I really don’t know quite what to say,” said Zabriskie, who turned professional in 2001. “But it happened, and it may be difficult to sleep tonight. I have no idea how long I can keep it.”

As in his Giro stage win, Zabriskie was again forced to endure a long wait before knowing his fate, having been the 19th rider to start and watch the results of 170 riders unfold. “It was very stressful and nervous to watch that on TV. But I am happy it worked in my favor,” he said, adding with a laugh, “It is a common thing for me (now), to wait around in time trials.”

Zabriskie, who switched to CSC after riding for U.S. Postal until last year, credited his former squad, saying his years there were “good” and that they “were development years that helped me progress as a rider. They gave me a start and a lot of experience.”

Zabriskie’s fortune today was also a long-awaited reward for the misfortune he experienced in 2003 when he broke his left leg and left arm when he was hit by an SUV when training near his home in Utah.

Stage Results
1. David Zabriskie (USA), CSC, 20:51:84
2. Lance Armstrong (USA), Discovery Channel, 0:02
3. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz), T-Mobile, 0:53
4. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel, 0:56
5. Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun), Credit Agricole, 0:59
6. Floyd Landis (USA), Phonak, 01:01
7. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Fassa Bortolo, 01:01
8. Jens Voigt (G), CSC, 01:04
9. Vladimir Karpets (Rus), Illes Balears, 01:05
10. Igor Gonzalez Galdeano (Sp), Liberty Seguros, 01:06
11. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC, 01:06
12. Jan Ullrich (G), T-Mobile, 01:08
13. José Enrique Gutierrez (Sp), Phonak, 01:12
14. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Gerolsteiner, 01:13
15. Michael Rich (G), Gerolsteiner, 01:13

Photo Gallery