Although much is being made of Lance Armstrong’s loss of time during the cobblestone stage — putting the King in 32nd place, 2:08 minutes behind — it’s still early in the race. In Lance’s prime this would’ve been brushed off as bad luck and no indication that he was in trouble.
Our observation is that Lance has not looked comfortable so far in the Tour. Obviously there’s a backstory with the doping allegations hanging over the Tour. But in Team Radio Shack, Lance also does not have the powerhouse train behind him this year, for the first time in memory. The prospect of keeping contact with and/or fending off numerous younger challengers with equally if not better team support cannot be too heartening for the 7-time winner either.
In any case, the Tour so far this year is not the rock-star farewell that Lance might have expected when he announced this would be his final go. There’s still plenty of time for the situation to change, but if the Tour keeps serving up twists and turns on a daily basis — as happened with the Giro this year — then the mere unpredictability and excitement of the stages will distract the press corps and public attention from Lance, especially if he isn’t in the thick of things.