Lance Armstrong has completed his preparations for the Tour de France, which the Team RadioShack rider is looking to win for an unprecedented eighth time, by clinching second place in the Tour of Switzerland, 12 seconds behind Team Saxo Bank’s Fränk Schleck.
The Luxembourg rider finished 13th quickest in the final day’s 29.6-kilometre time trial, with race leader Robert Gesink of Rabobank dropping down the rankings as he came home in 40th place behind stage winner, Tony Martin of HTC-Columbia.
While Armstrong rode well to finish 5 seconds ahead of Schleck, it wasn’t quite enough to secure the overall win, and although the Texan may not be quite the rider he once was – his imperious performance in time trials underpinned his Tour de France wins as much as his showing in the mountains – his podium place demonstrate that he is moving into peak form ahead of the Grand Départ in Rotterdam in less than a fortnight.
Schleck dedicated his victory to his compatriot, Team Katusha’s Kim Kirchen, who remains in an induced coma in hospital after collapsing on Friday evening following that day's stage.
Commenting on his victory, the Saxo-Bank rider, who finished fifth in last year’s Tour de France – brother and team-mate Andy was second overall – was quoted in the Guardian as saying: “I was a little bit surprised myself that it went so well but the good thing about being on the same team as Fabian Cancellara is that you get to know a trick or two about time trialling and he said I could pull it off before the stage."
He continued: "Winning here so close to the Tour de France means a lot to me but my thoughts go to Kim Kirchen and his family who are having a hard time right now."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.