Armstrong Charges Through Rainy, Rocky Day - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Armstrong Charges Through Rainy, Rocky Day

Posted: Updated:
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) -- Lance Armstrong finished among the leaders in the Tour of California's opening stage on an exasperating Sunday that included drenching rain, a flat tire and even the theft of his time-trial bike.

Armstrong persevered through his profoundly gloomy day to finish near the front of a grueling 107-mile stage. He led a chase group that never quite caught up to the soaked race leaders, including surprise stage winner Francisco Mancebo of Spain.

But the day began inauspiciously and got worse before a solid finish by Armstrong, who might have been rethinking his comeback during five frigid hours in the rain - if he hadn't already endured much tougher struggles with cancer and doping allegations during a historic racing career that includes seven Tour de France titles.

"Holy hell. That was terrible," Armstrong wrote on his Twitter feed about 15 minutes after finishing. "Maybe one of the toughest days I've had on a bike, purely based on the conditions. I'm still freezing."

Cycling doesn't get much more exasperating than it did Sunday for Team Astana, which lost four bikes to thieves Saturday night, some time after Armstrong finished 10th in the prologue. His time-trial bike was stolen from the Astana truck in Sacramento along with the race bikes of teammates Steve Morabito, Yaroslav Popovych and Janez Brajkovic.

Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens confirmed the bike thefts to The Associated Press after it was reported by Armstrong himself on Twitter. Armstrong later posted a picture of his missing bike, which has distinctive yellow-and-black wheels and the logo of his Livestrong foundation.

"There is only one like it in the world therefore hard to pawn it off. Reward being offered," Armstrong wrote.

The rain fell in steady sheets from the opening miles of Stage 1 in Davis, a famously bike-friendly college town southwest of Sacramento. Most riders needed about five difficult hours to cross the rolling hills of the Napa Valley before ending up in Sonoma County, but Armstrong stayed in contention despite a flat tire along the way.

Mancebo, an 11-year pro who joined Rock Racing this year, took an early lead and stayed in front of a chase group that included Levi Leipheimer and Armstrong until the downtown finish, when Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas caught him with just one lap to go on the three-lap circuit. Mancebo somehow reclaimed the lead and barely held off Nibali and Quickstep's Jurgen Van de Walle in a surprisingly entertaining finish under such awful weather conditions.

The Tour of California is Armstrong's first competitive appearance in his native country since beginning his comeback last month.

Fabian Cancellara, the Swiss Olympic champion who edged Leipheimer to win the prologue, dropped out of the race midway through the opening stage with a fever. Leipheimer, Armstrong's teammate and the two-time defending Tour champion, also felt ill, but the Santa Rosa native stayed in the race.

Armstrong won't need his time-trial bike again until Friday in Solvang, where the race holds its second time trial. That segment is crucial to Astana's hopes of winning the overall team title, however.

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • SportsMore>>

  • A rising concern? After straws, balloons get more scrutiny

    A rising concern? After straws, balloons get more scrutiny

    Wednesday, August 15 2018 10:24 AM EDT2018-08-15 14:24:51 GMT
    Thursday, August 16 2018 5:40 AM EDT2018-08-16 09:40:30 GMT
    (AP Photo/AJ Mast, File). FILE- In this Oct. 14, 2017, file photo balloons are released in Memorial Stadium before an NCAA college football game between Indiana and Michigan in Bloomington, Ind. The celebration of releasing balloons into the air has lo...(AP Photo/AJ Mast, File). FILE- In this Oct. 14, 2017, file photo balloons are released in Memorial Stadium before an NCAA college football game between Indiana and Michigan in Bloomington, Ind. The celebration of releasing balloons into the air has lo...
    Now that plastic straws seem headed for extinction, could Americans' love of balloons be next to go pop?. 
    Now that plastic straws seem headed for extinction, could Americans' love of balloons be next to go pop?. 
  • Hard Knocks: Bills receiver Coleman can't escape Browns past

    Hard Knocks: Bills receiver Coleman can't escape Browns past

    Wednesday, August 15 2018 2:56 PM EDT2018-08-15 18:56:34 GMT
    Thursday, August 16 2018 3:09 AM EDT2018-08-16 07:09:07 GMT
    (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File). FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2018, file photo, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Corey Coleman talks to the media after his first practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Pittsford, N.Y. Bills newly acquired receiver Core...(AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File). FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2018, file photo, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Corey Coleman talks to the media after his first practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Pittsford, N.Y. Bills newly acquired receiver Core...
    New Buffalo Bills wide receiver Corey Coleman can't escape reminders of Cleveland no matter how hard he's tried to put his two seasons with the Browns in the past. 
    New Buffalo Bills wide receiver Corey Coleman can't escape reminders of Cleveland no matter how hard he's tried to put his two seasons with the Browns in the past. 
  • Maryland takes responsibility for mistakes in player death

    Maryland takes responsibility for mistakes in player death

    Tuesday, August 14 2018 3:17 PM EDT2018-08-14 19:17:44 GMT
    Wednesday, August 15 2018 5:53 PM EDT2018-08-15 21:53:53 GMT
    Maryland has parted ways with its football team's strength and conditioning staff Rick Court in the wake of the death of a player. 
    Maryland has parted ways with its football team's strength and conditioning staff Rick Court in the wake of the death of a player. 
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 Midwest Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.