April 22, 2004
In Rome, Armstrong does as the crit riders do
Lance Armstrong gave a good indicator of his fitness level, with a win in a criterium-style finish at the Tour de Georgia in Rome. It's not often we see Armstrong winning a race by a bike toss, but a short steep climb on the finishing circuit took its toll of the sprint specialists, leaving the primary overall contenders in a small group to contest the finish.
Armstrong picked the right wheel to follow in the sprint: Ivan Dominguez, who has now finished 2nd in all 3 stages of the Tour de Georgia. Dominguez takes the leader's yellow jersey at least through tonight's Time Trial around Rome. Dominguez was marking Chris Horner and George Hincapie:
"I like a race like that one. I don't like a flat race. I'm not a climber, but I hate flat races. Coming up the last hill I was behind Horner and he started going and I lost maybe half-a-bike, and Bobby Julich and George Hincapie, they passed me and then stayed there. Coming to the finish I just followed Hincapie's wheel, and I started passing him and Armstrong got me on the finish."
Armstrong was never a criterium specialist, even when he raced in America, and he commented on the different skills necessary for racing circuits of city streets instead of a road course:
"This is a whole other art, here. It's crazy," Armstrong said. "I'm glad I don't do it for a living. You can tell these guys are used to racing this style of races. In these races you have no friends, you have no allies, and you have no brakes. In Europe it's very different. There's a different hierarchy in the European peloton, and most guys use their brakes over there a little more."
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