July 7, 2009

Armstrong pulls into tie for tour lead

Lance Armstrong pulled into a virtual tie for the overall lead of the Tour de France with his team's first-place finish Tuesday in time trials at Montpellier.

Armstrong and the rest of the Astana team drew the last starting position for the 23.4-mile trek through Montpellier and finished in 46 minutes and 29 seconds, 40 seconds ahead of SaxoBank, which includes Fabien Cancellara.

Armstrong, who won the Tour de France seven times but is returning in 2009 after a three-year layoff, opened the day in third place overall, 40 seconds behind Cancellara, who has led the Tour de France since Saturday's first stage.

Because of a fractions-of-a-second edge Cancellara earned in Saturday's time trial, he retains the yellow jersey but he and Armstrong are both considered having the same overall time after four of the tour's 21 stages.

Armstrong teammate Alberto Contador is in third, 19 seconds behind the leaders with Andreas Kloden, another Astana rider, in fourth 23 seconds off the pace. Five of the top seven riders are from Astana.

Stage 5 Wednesday is a 118-mile run from Cap Le Cap d'Agde to Perpignan. The Tour de France continues through July 26.