Lance Armstrong up to second on countback in Tour de France stage four

The comeback of Lance Armstrong is almost complete with the legendary American cyclist drawing equal in time with the leader of the Tour de France after the stage four team time trial, but not wearing the yellow jersey due to a countback.

After leaping from tenth to third yesterday, Armstrong’s Team Astana blitzed the 38km team time trial around the French city of Montpellier, finishing in a time of 46 hours and 9 seconds. The team of previous leader Fabian Cancellara, Team Saxobank, finished third at 40 seconds behind Armstrong’s team, putting Cancellara at exactly the same overall time as the American.

The decision on who was to wear the famed maillot jaune on stage five came back to a countback of fractions of a second based on the individual time trial in stage one, leaving the yellow jersey on the back of the Swiss Cancellara with Armstrong officially zero seconds behind.

While Armstrong will be the one getting all the attention today, it may be that his team mate Alberto Contador of Spain will be the major beneficiary of today’s stage in the end, as he moves into third at 19 seconds behind Armstrong and Cancellara.

Australia’s Cadel Evans was a big loser for the second day running, with his Silence-Lotto team finishing 2 minutes and 35 seconds behind Astana after waiting for one of their riders who crashed on the difficult street stage.

Full stage four results:

1. Astana 46.29
2. Garmin-Slipstream 0.18 seconds behind
3. Team Saxo Bank 0.40
4. Liquigas 0.58
5. Columbia-HTC 0.59
6. Team Katusha 1.23
7. Caisse d’Epargne 1.39
8. Cervélo TestTeam 1.37
9. AG2R La Mondiale 1.48
10. Euskatel-Euskadi 2.09
11. Rabobank 2.38
12. Quick Step 2.44
13. Silence-Lotto 2.35
14. Française des Jeux 2.46
15. Team Milram 2.48
16. Cofidis, Le Credit en Ligne 2.58
17. Lampre-NGC 3.24
18. Agritubel 4.17
19. BBox Bouygues Telecom 4.41
20. Skil-Shimano 5.23