Lance Armstrong admitted that his hopes of winning this year’s Tour de France were over last week. Yesterday though, he wanted to show that he can still cut it in the high mountains by winning a stage in the Pyrénées.
In a long and gruelling stage that started in Bagnères-de-Luchon and negotiated five major climbs – the Peyresourde, the Aspin, the mighty Tourmalet, the Soulor and the Aubisque and with just under 200km before the finish in Pau, he was the leading animator of the day's break, controlling it as he had during his epic years.
Just 30 metres from the finishing line with his head down and his legs pumping, he watched as Pierrick Fédrigo accelerated away with Sandy Casar and Rubén Plaza Molina in hot pursuit. At that point Armstrong’s hopes of one last stage win were over.
At 38 he will finally retire, still holding the record of those seven consecutive wins between 1999 and 2005 and still the winner of 22 individual stages. Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain trail him with five wins (Merckx of course won 10 jerseys in total).