Armstrong ready to make a move
BOURG-SAINT-MAURICE, France (AP) -- Lance Armstrong mustered one of his strongest showings yet at this Tour de France on Tuesday, a dazzling burst of acceleration from yesteryear that allowed him to keep second place.
The seven-time champion was so buoyed by the performance that he suggested to The Associated Press he could still contend for the yellow jersey if teammate and race leader Alberto Contador has a "bad day."
Armstrong, speaking after the 16th stage in the Alps, stressed he doesn't expect that to happen and only a "big shake-up" would allow for such a scenario.
Contador, the 2007 Tour winner, had to fight to retain the overall lead in the 99-mile stage from the Swiss town of Martigny to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, France, which was won by Mikel Astarloza of Spain.
As Contador tried to keep pace with two attackers on the final climb, the 37-year-old Texan lagged. But after dropping back at least 35 seconds, he popped out of his saddle and recovered lost ground.
"I had no choice. ... So I waited until we had a steeper section and then I got away with an acceleration," he said.
Contador was impressed, but not surprised.
"It's easy to explain -- he's a very great rider," said Contador, who leads his Astana teammate by 1:37. "He was in the past, and he showed it once again."
Contador and Armstrong finished in a small group of race leaders behind Astarloza. The route featured the highest peak this year, the snowcapped Grand-Saint-Bernard pass on the Swiss-Italian border, at 8,113 feet, and its sister the Petit-Saint-Bernard pass, on the Italian-French border.
Armstrong committed himself to help Contador win the three-week race after the Spaniard took the yellow jersey that day. Armstrong appeared to shut down his own ambitions then. But at cycling's main event -- which ends Sunday in Paris -- anything can happen.
"If there was a massive shake-up and something happened, then I'd have to be strong -- to represent the interests of the team," Armstrong said. "But I don't think that's going to happen."
"If he were to have a bad day, I think I could cover the moves for the team," he added.
"But I don't think he's going to have a bad day."