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Lance Armstrong moves to second in Tour de France

His Astana team wins the fourth stage of the Tour. Switzerland's Cancellara holds a narrow overall lead.

July 08, 2009|Lauren Goldman; | Associated Press

Calling his team "simply awesome," Lance Armstrong was nearly decked out in yellow again.

The seven-time champion surged from third place to second at the Tour de France on Tuesday after his Astana squad won a team time trial in a dramatic finish.

Armstrong erased all but a sliver of his 40-second deficit to leader Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland in the fourth stage. The only thing separating him from the yellow jersey now is a fraction of a second.

The 37-year-old Texan plotted strategy with star teammate Alberto Contador before the stage to weed out potential rivals.

Astana was timed in 46 minutes 29 seconds for the 24.2-mile ride in and around Montpellier. That was 18 seconds better than runner-up Garmin, with Saxo Bank third, 40 seconds back.

Armstrong entered the day 40 seconds behind Cancellara of Saxo Bank, meaning ownership of the yellow jersey came down to split seconds.

Armstrong and Cancellara share an overall time of 10 hours 38 minutes 7 seconds, although the Swiss rider was deemed a fraction ahead. Organizers examined Saturday's opening time trial in Monaco that was won by Cancellara. Those results were calculated to the thousandth of a second.

"That's Swiss timing," Cancellara said, laughing. "Time is on my side."

Astana dealt a blow to several title hopefuls. Defending champion Carlos Sastre of Spain is 2:44 back, two-time runner-up Cadel Evans of Australia is 2:59 behind and Giro d'Italia champ Denis Menchov of Russia is 3:52 back.

Quote of the day: "Boo-YA!!! Well, what can I say? The team was simply awesome today. Consistent, fluid, mistake-free. We love this event . . . and are stoked to win." -- Lance Armstrong, writing on Twitter, about his team's performance Tuesday.

STAGE 4 RESULTS

1. Team Astana

46 minutes 29 seconds

2. Team Garmin-Slipstream

:18 behind

3. Saxo Bank

:40 behind

4. Team Liquigas

:58 behind

5. Team Columbia-High Road

:59 behind

OVERALL STANDINGS

1. Fabian Cancellara, Switzerland

10:38:07

2. Lance Armstrong, United States

same time

3. Alberto Contador, Spain

:19 behind

4. Andreas Kloden, Germany

:23 behind

5. Levi Leipheimer, United States

:31 behind

Today's stage: The fifth stage is a 196.5-kilometer (122.1-mile) trek from Le Cap d'Agde to Perpignan along the Mediterranean coast.

Destination Perpignan: This stage of the Tour is dedicated to surrealist artist Salvador Dali, who claimed that the Perpignan railway station was the center of the universe and the place where he got his best ideas. Dali was fascinated by cycling and he actually created the 1959 Tour's postcard.

-- Lauren Goldman

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