I now think Lance Armstrong has a good chance of winning this year’s Tour de France. I was not so sure. The machine no longer looked invincible last year. He looked good, but it did not look like fun. This year? If there’s a moment, a clue, it perhaps is the third stage of the Tour of Murcia a week ago, when Armstrong moves to the front, the super domestique leading out Postal sprinter Max van Heeswijk. Let’s let Max tell it:
“Lance pulled very hard the last few hundred meters and provided me with a very good lead out. He said it had been a long time since he last did a lead out but it was perfect. He went really hard into the last corner. He’s a great champion.”
Or Michael Barry:
With just over a kilometer to go, Pavel was on the front stringing the peloton out into a single line. Next I did a hard effort on the front and then Lance took Max to the line. Lance went through the last corner without touching his brakes at full speed. At the line Max won by a good bike length over Zabel with the next riders coming across the line in single file.
It is rare the team does a lead out and very rare Lance is even close to the front in a final sprint. It was an extreme adrenalin rush and everybody on the team gave everything they had to get Max to the line in position to win.
The Texan doesn’t have to mix it up. He’s not being paid to lead out a sprint. That’s just fun.