Cancellara keeps the jersey by a fraction of a second over Armstrong
Team Astana blazed through the team time trial to win stage 4. Astana came across the line 40 seconds ahead of the Saxo Bank squad of race leader Fabian Cancellara (Oakley) — the exact margin by which Cancellara led Lance Armstrong on general classification. After some careful math by race officials, Cancellara now holds the yellow jersey by a fraction of a second over Armstrong.
Garmin-Slipstream finished second on the day, 18 seconds down.
Astana came into the stage with four riders in the top 10 thanks to their time trialing ability, and that strength showed again on the 39km stage around Montpellier. Held largely on narrow roads, the technical course featured more than a few dicey corners that put riders from several teams on the ground.
World champion Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) was the first to go down, sliding out on a tight left-hand bend that soon felled Giro d’Italia champion Denis Menchov (Rabobank).
But Astana, having previewed the course several times, rode with precision and focused determination, avoiding any mishaps. They were rewarded for their efforts with Armstrong slotting into second overall, followed by Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden and Levi Leipheimer in third through fifth, respectively.
“It’s a little bit of a disappointment,” Armstrong said of the narrow miss. “But the yellow jersey is on the horizon. Astana did their maximum.”