Lance Armstrong has failed by under a second to take the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, after the American’s Astana team powered to victory in the 39km fourth stage team time-trial around Montpellier.
Seven-times winner Armstrong began the day 40 seconds behind race leader Fabian Cancellara in third position on general classification — and his Astana team duly beat Cancellara’s Saxon Bank team by that very margin, with the Garmin team splitting them in second position. The result means Swiss Cancellara keeps hold of the race lead by the slenderest of margins, with 2007 champion and Armstrong’s team-mate Alberto Contador in third place, 19 seconds behind the leading two.
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Andrea Kloden and Levi Leipheimer make up the top five to ensure that four Astana riders are at the head of affairs. Germany’s Tony Martin, whose Columbia team finished fifth, 59 seconds off the lead, started the day second overall but has dropped down to ninth position.