The first stage of the Tour Down Under is complete, and Lance Armstrong survived the first day, which is expected to be the easiest, despite the 103º F temperatures. You can read all about Lance’s first real day of tough competition, as well as catch a video, in his comeback over at ESPN.com.
At the end of the day, Lance was ranked 120th of 133 riders. The race is currently led by German Andre Greipel, who won last year’s TDU. Greipel has an 11-second lead over a group of competitors nipping at his heels, that include three Aussies in Baden Cooke, Stuart O’Grady and Robbie McEwen. Tomorrow’s stage is only slightly longer at 145km (90 miles), but will probably offer more challenging climbs, and if the heat continues, it’ll begin to take it’s toll on the racers as well.
Judging from Lance’s approach so far, I’m guessing he’s content to just ride with the Peloton on this one and get his competitive legs back under him. Climbing out of a 120th place to become competitive in his first race back seems like a stretch, and he’ll be looking for bigger events down the line when he’s better prepared and feeling more comfortable.
Reading his twitter feed has been great today though. He notes that at one point in the race they were screaming down hill at 102 km/hour or 63 mph. Pretty scary on a bike. Lance also wants us all to know that he is not the oldest racer in the field at 37. Jens Voigt is actually one day older. 🙂
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