Back three centuries to the turbulent times of the â€œSun King,â€ Louis XIV, being sent to Limoges wasnâ€™t a whole lot of fun. The irascible monarch made a habit of exiling out-of-favor acquaintances to the central French city, where they faced public embarrassment and the termination of their political ambitions.
Fast-forward to modern times, and Limoges meant only one thing for Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France field â€“ rest.
The first day off for this yearâ€™s Tour gave riders a rare opportunity to ease their wearied legs on Monday. But as the wheels started turning once more on Tuesday, the conjecture and speculation surrounding cyclingâ€™s biggest name had not died down any…Â Details
A perfectly set up sprint gave Mark Cavendish another stage victory and just the tonic he needed on Tuesday after three punishing stages of the Tour de France in the Pyrenees.
The Briton, who now has seven Tour wins to his name â€” including three in this yearâ€™s raceâ€”struggled in the first mountain stages but showed few ill effects as he crossed first on the 194.5-km ride from Limoges.
â€œItâ€™s a good win, the finish was difficult, with an uphill part and a lot of corners,â€ Cavendish told reporters.
â€œI told myself that I had maybe started (my sprint) too soon but I was perfectly set up by (Columbia team mate) Mark (Renshaw)…Â Details
Lance Armstrong adhered to cycling’s sometimes puzzling protocol in the Pyrenees on Friday when, as much as he surely wanted to, he resisted chasing down Astana teammate Alberto Contador when the Spaniard attacked near the end of the lofty summit finish in Andorra.
Armstrong’s restraint allowed the Spaniard, his most daunting obstacle to an eighth yellow jersey, to gain 21 seconds, a potentially huge swing considering a mere two seconds separates them with 12 stages of the 96th Tour de France remaining.
Contador insisted Monday that he will …Â Details
As the midway point of the Tour de France closes in, the eventual outcome remains a mystery.
Despite more than a week passed and more than 800 miles covered, much of the plot of this yearâ€™s race is yet to unravel.
Lance Armstrong believes it may all boil down to the penultimate stage on Mont Ventoux and it is hard to argue with his logic.
Here we take a look at the key questions of the Tour and where things stand so far.
1. Can Armstrong win it?
This was the biggest â€œifâ€ before the start of the event and many cycling experts were resoundingly negative about the Texanâ€™s chances…Â Details
Alberto Contador shrugged off Lance Armstrongâ€™s talk of tensions within the Astana team, saying on Monday he would let nothing distract him on his quest for a second Tour de France victory.
Seven-times champion Armstrong recognised on Sunday that having two such strong co-leaders in the Kazakh-funded team was not without its problems, saying: â€œThere have been some tensions within the team.â€
Contador, the 2007 champion, is in second place, six seconds adrift of Rinaldo Nocentini and two seconds ahead of Armstrong.
â€œIt does not trouble me at all,â€ the 26-year-old Contador said at a news conference on Monday, as riders enjoyed a rest day. â€œIt does not affect me. The situation is normal.â€Â …Â Details
Attacking during the first part of the Tour de France was almost impossible, last yearâ€™s winner Carlos Sastre said on Monday.
The Spaniard, in 16th place overall and nearly three minutes behind leader Rinaldo Nocentini, was content to keep his powder dry during the three Pyrenees stages.
Asked why he did not try his luck in the summit finish at Arcalis on Friday, the Cervelo rider said: â€œThe cemetery is full of brave men.â€
Hot favourite Alberto Contador produced a telling surge two kilometres from the finish on the seventh stage to stamp his authority on the race.
Sastre built his surprise triumph last year on a stunning attack on the ascent of the Alpe dâ€™Huez and knows he still has time to make his move.
â€œIn nine days, there has not been a lot of …Â Details