Lance Armstrong Not Ready to Go Away Yet

Ken BlackContributor IJuly 21, 2009

PONTARLIER, FRANCE - JULY 19: Lance Armstrong of the USA and Astana in action on stage 15 of the 2009 Tour de France from Pontarlier to Verbier on July 19, 2009 in Pontalier, France.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Lance Armstrong may be a a senior citizen in the world of professional cycling, but he showed Tuesday he's far from dead.

Dropped, and at one point behind by as much as 35 seconds, the 37-year-old Texan showed everyone he still has a kick in his legs. He showed flashes of his former brilliance, but not his winning ways as he sought to stay in contention, if not the for yellow jersey, then at least for the podium in Stage 16 of the Tour de France.

Just when the doubters were ready to declare him a "has been," he showed he's a "still is." He may not have Alberto Contador's kick, but he's got the champion's heart.

On the slopes of the Petit-Saint-Bernard, he was left in the dust again as the Schlecks accelerated and Contador followed. Armstrong did not. He was hoping the group he was with would pull him back up to the leaders. When they did not, he took matters into his own hands.

Armstrong knew he couldn't keep up with the younger lads, but he also knew their accelerations would wear them out as well. He only had to bide his time and wait and then put in an acceleration of his own. He found the group up ahead on the mountain, and no one was in a position to attack again.

Armstrong may not have won a podium finish. He may not have won the yellow jersey. But he also did not lose either one.

Ready to admit defeat on Sunday, Armstrong was quoted by The Associated Press as saying, "If he were to have a bad day, I think I could cover the moves for the team."

In other words, do not count Armstrong out. He has one more day in the mountains, and if finishes in the group with Contador, it will set up a great showdown in the time trial on Thursday.

Until today, that time trial looked to solidify who was second and third. Now, no position may be safe.

Then, on Saturday, watch out going up Mount Ventoux. It's looking more and more like nothing will be decided until then.