Tour De France 16th Stage: Lance Armstrong Leads Breakaway And Almost Wins

Debora RubiContributor IJuly 20, 2010

PAU, FRANCE - JULY 20:  American Lance Armstrong with team RadioShack rides in a breakaway during stage 16 of the Tour de France on July 20, 2010 in Pau, France. Armstrong started the ride between Bagneres-de-Luchon and Pau in 31st place. French rider Pierrick Fedrigo won the stage while Alberto Contador retained the yellow jersey. The iconic bicycle race will include a total of 20 stages and will cover 3,642km before concluding in Paris on July 25.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

In what has been a disappointing race for the American legend, Lance Armstrong had one of his strongest stages on Tuesday when he led a breakaway in the 16th stage from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Pau.

The stage is one of the toughest in the competition, including four climbs through the Pyrenees mountains.

While Armstrong ended in a disappointing sixth place in the stage, he still gained raucous applause from the local crowds for his strong effort.


Leading on Breakways

Armstrong led two breakaways during the stage. In the first attempt, he broke away from the Peloton on his own, but was quickly caught. His second breakaway came alongside fellow American Chris Horner.

On both attempts, Armstrong was able to fly past the two overall leaders Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck.

Armstrong had a strong chance to win the stage, the closest he's come all competition, but the 38-year-old's legs seemed to have given up when it came time for the final sprint.

The final sprint was ultimately won by Pierrick Fedrigo, who was able to fly by Sandy Casar and Ruben Plazas in the last meters of the race. 


Plagued by Bad Fortune

Armstrong's last Tour de France has been plagued by bad fortune.

He was part of the high profile crashes that affected many of the top riders in the initial stages of the Tour.

Armstrong also had an untimely flat tire in the cobblestone that distanced him even further from the top contenders of the race.


Plagued by The Future

Armstrong has been facing a lot of pressure compared to many of the riders. He has a record and reputation to defend and is facing himself as his biggest rival.

It is unlikely that anyone will ever beat the records amassed by Armstrong in this race.

Armstrong also comes into the race with the cloud of Floyd Landis above him. As little credibility as Landis has in the racing world, he has not been the only one to question the dominance of the American cyclist.

After the race is over, Armstrong will have to face a federal investigation instigated by Landis' allegations.


Finding a Final Inspiration

With a break coming tomorrow before the final stages leading into Paris, this was one of the prime moments for the 38-year-old to make a run and earn a spot on the podium, even if it's just for winning a stage.

The American will face accolades from the fans, especially after the effort he made today.

He'll make sure to take advantage of the break tomorrow as his beaten body recovers from today's stage.

Armstrong has stated that all the pressure, created by his past or by the allegations made by Landis, have only fueled him in his final race.

Could Armstrong have one more final run in the last stages like he did today?

If so, Armstrong could one again find himself stealing the spotlight of the cycling world from Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck.