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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cycling: Contador beats Armstrong handily in 1st stage

Associated Press Writer

COL DE L'OSPEDALE, Corsica Alberto Contador outclassed Lance Armstrong in the first stage of the two-day Criterium International on Saturday.

Pierrick Fedrigo won the stage in 5 hours, 19 minutes, 35 seconds, with Contador finishing in the pack 1:21 behind, while Armstrong was 5:01 off the pace in the former teammates' first race together since last year's Tour de France.

"In the beginning I thought I was either really, really good or really, really bad, and it was the latter," Armstrong said.

Armstrong burst to the front about 5 miles from the finish of the 109-mile stage from Porto Vecchio to the uphill finish at Col de l'Ospedale, but lagged and fell away about 2 miles later.

"I didn't have the best day, and I didn't expect anything different," Armstrong said.

"There are a couple of things at play here I don't have that many race days under my belt like a lot of other guys and we're in March. If we were having this discussion in July (during the Tour de France) I'd have to answer, 'Yeah I'm disappointed.'"

The Texan added that he wasn't looking to be in good condition until the Tour of California in late May.

Contador dropped from the lead group with about a mile to go after telling Astana teammate Alexandre Vinokourov to stop pushing so hard at the front because his allergies were acting up.

"Nobody is unbeatable, we can't always win," Contador said.

He said he was happy to conserve energy on the final climb for the 4.8-mile time trial that closes the race on Sunday.

It will be preceded by a 47-mile mostly flat trek in the morning.