Armstrong Off And Running In Title Defense
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ Lance Armstrong obliterated the field and took a significant race lead after winning the second half of Friday’s double stage in the Tour DuPont.
Armstrong, 24, of Austin, Texas, the leader of the Motorola team, captured the 7.1-mile Raleigh individual time trial in 12 minutes, 56.965 seconds, an average speed of 32.89 mph.
Tony Rominger of Switzerland (Mapei-GB), the world’s second-ranked cyclist, was second in 13:20.030 with teammate Daniele Nardello of Italy third in 13:29.059.
``I think the time tells me I’m in shape,″ said Armstrong, who leads Rominger, the reigning Tour of Italy champion, by 35 seconds. ``The last two weeks in Europe were the best I’ve ridden in my life. So it was just a matter of getting over the travel.″
After winning the second stage Thursday night, the 1993 world road champion’s victory Friday was his third of the season and seventh in six years competing in the Tour DuPont.
In mid-April, Armstrong, ranked seventh in the world, also won Fleche-Wallone and finished second in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, two one-day historic World Cup races held four days apart in Belgium.
``He’s quite stronger than I am at the present,″ Rominger said of Armstrong. ``But I’m on the way to getting better. I’m satisfied with my effort and I’m on my way to the Tour de France.″
Rominger, 35, is riding in the Tour DuPont as preparation for his last effort in the cycling’s showcase event in July.
Nardello, who finished fifth overall last year, moved into third place, 44 seconds behind.
While Armstrong conserved and finished in the main pack, Germany’s Marcel Wust emerged from a large sprinting pack with about 300 yards left to claim the slow morning portion of the third stage in 4:08:04.8.
Wust, 28, winner of three stages in the 1995 Tour of Spain riding for MX-Onda, won the 101-mile Emporia, Va., to Raleigh, N.C., road race by an estimated three feet at an average speed of 24.42 mph.
Sven Teutenberg of Germany (U.S. Postal Service), a double stage winner in the 1994 Tour DuPont, was second. Glenn Magnusson of Sweden (Amore & Vita), who was second in the second stage, finished third.
``I had a bigger gear than anyone else,″ said Wust, a fourth-year pro. ``No one could get me. It was a perfect sprinter’s stage.″
Radisa Cubric of Yugoslavia and Dave McCook of Fairfield, Calif., who both ride for Plymouth and Marc Patry of Belgium (Vlaanderen) crashed with about 400 yards left in the morning stage. The trio suffered minor injuries, but all rode in the time trial.
The $260,000 race continues Saturday with the 110.5-mile Raleigh to Greensboro road race fourth stage. The tour concludes May 12 with an individual time trial ending at Marietta, Ga.