Armstrong philosophical after disastrous stage

When he announced the 2010 Tour de France would be his last, Lance Armstrong would not have expected it to end so soon.

When he announced the 2010 Tour de France would be his last, Lance Armstrong would not have expected it to end so soon.

The 38-year-old seven-time champion's challenge for an eighth title disintegrated yesterday on the 189-kilometre eighth stage from Station des Rousses to Morzine-Avoriaz.

Armstrong finished 11 minutes 45 seconds behind stage winner Andy Schleck (Team Saxo Bank) to fall back to 39th position overall as Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) assumed the race leader's yellow jersey.

Alberto Contador (Astana) lies third overall, 61 seconds adrift, after finishing alongside Evans, 10 seconds behind Schleck.

Armstrong endured an incident-packed day, going on to the grass following a collision in the peloton after 6km and twice crashing himself.

He was also dropped on the 97th Tour's first category one climb, the Col de La Ramaz, as he looked every inch a man who is two months short of his 39th birthday.

"My Tour's finished," Armstrong, who finished third in his comeback year in 2009, said after the stage.

"But I'll hang in there and enjoy my final Tour."

The next 12 days of racing through to Paris will be a farewell tour for the Texan.

He knew his Tour was over even before beginning the final climb into Avoriaz.

Armstrong added: "I had a couple of hours to think about it at the end of the stage, so it's not like it's unbelievable for me.

"I tried to appreciate my time, look around, appreciate the fans and know that it's not going to be my year."

Bradley Wiggins' hopes of a podium finish on the Champs Elysees on July 25 also receded.

The Team Sky leader finished 1min 45secs behind Schleck to drop to 14th place overall, 2:45 behind Evans.

Wiggins, a three-time Olympic champion on the track and one place behind Armstrong in fourth in the 2009 Tour, was dropped with 3km to go.

"I did my best, that's all you can do in that situation," said the 30-year-old Londoner.

"There came a point when I just couldn't afford to keep hanging on to that group through just completely exploding.

"I tried to get to 4K (four kilometres) to go and then planned to ride at my own tempo and limit my losses.

"Another day down and we'll see what happens next week."

Today is a rest day in the Alps, with racing resuming tomorrow with the 204.5km ninth stage from Morzine-Avoriaz to Saint-Jaune-de-Maurienne, where the general classification standings could be shaken up once again.

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