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Stage 8 proved, that for Lance Armstrong, Murphy was right.  Anything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Texan. All you have to do is see the chilling You Tube video of his second crash to understand why he is no longer in contention for the yellow jersey. The video is reminiscent of the Sioux City plane crash in the mid-80's.  Both the Lance and the plane were seen cartwheeling at high speeds down the asphalt. Not good.

 

Lance doesn't need to make any excuses for what happened on the road to Morzine-Avoriaz.  Last time I checked, they don't take away your seven Tour de France wins because you crashed in your thirteenth Tour and had a bad day.  He is still a Tour champion, it's just that he will not be the Tour champion in 2010.

 

More to the point, Lance's second crash was bad for two reasons.  First, going down at 30+mph is never going to be fun. Ever.  Secondly, the crash occurred just before the difficult Col de la Ramaz. It is essential at the Tour that you start at the front on the critical climbs. You do not want to have to waste energy closing gaps as the slower riders in front of you come off and get dropped.

 

In Lance's case, he had to use a lot of energy just to regain the peloton before the climb started.  Then he had to use even more energy to move up to the front. Add in the fact that Team Sky was drilling it at the front for Bradley Wiggins and you have the perfect storm of bad luck for Lance.

 

Lance has not had too much bad luck when he won his seven consecutive Tours. Probably the most memorable was 2003 with the crash involving Joseba Beloki on the stage to Gap and the infamous mussette in the handlebars on the summit finish at Luz Ardiden.  In both those cases, Lance as able to regroup and overcome the bad luck.  That didn't happen yesterday. One look at the crash video and you know why.

 

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Up at the front of the race it was a day for the overall contenders to solidify their position at the head of the peloton.  All the racers have been saying that the Tour will be won in the Pyrenees in the final week which means that now while the race is in the Alps, it is time to thin out the herd a bit so the real contenders don't have to watch too many adversaries as the race concludes.

 

Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans and Andy Schleck are clearly the best of the favorites. Levi Leipheimer was right there at the finish with this supremely select group, but the 2+ minutes lost on the cobbles on stage 3 is still something he will have to try and overcome if he wants to be on the podium in Paris.

 

Bradley Wiggins was a bit of a disappointment, but he has the ability to regroup. It was nice to see Garmin's new team leader Ryder Hesjedal close to the leaders on the final ascent.  I really hope now that he can put in a good ride and finish high up in the overall.

 

Bruce

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