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Armstrong era at French race ends

Lance Armstrong, who has struggled during climbs and gotten caught up in many crashes, is out of contention in his final Tour.

Associated Press

Lance Armstrong, who has struggled during climbs and gotten caught up in many crashes, is out of contention in his final Tour.

MORZINE, France — Close the book on the Lance Armstrong era at the Tour de France. He has.

The record seven-time champion wrote off his chances of victory in his 13th and last Tour, signaling the beginning of the end of one of the most celebrated and controversial careers in cycling history.

Armstrong's hopes for another title were dashed Sunday after he got caught in three crashes — one of which brought him down — and struggled to keep up during two tough climbs in Stage 8, the race's first foray into the Alps. He and his team said his hip got banged up, keeping him from pedaling hard.

The stage was won by Andy Schleck, and Armstrong, 38, finished nearly 12 minutes back, in 61st place.

World champion Cadel Evans took the yellow jersey by finishing 10 seconds behind Schleck, but well ahead of overnight leader Sylvain Chavanel.

"My Tour is finished," said Armstrong, who fell to 39th overall.

Schleck showed he's one of the world's best climbers by surging to the head of the pack with less than a mile to go and winning a two-man sprint ahead of Samuel Sanchez.

Schleck clocked 4 hours, 54 minutes, 11 seconds, for the 117.4-mile run from Station des Rousses to the Morzine-Avoriaz ski resort that featured two difficult climbs.

Spain's Alberto Contador, the defending champ, was fifth, 10 seconds back — along with Evans.

"No tears for me," Armstrong said. "There's been a lot of years where it's been very different."

Overall, Evans leads Schleck by 20 seconds and Contador by 61.

Despite feeling good about the stage victory, Schleck, 25, said he could not help but feel badly for Armstrong.

"To be really honest, I'm a little bit sorry for him because he really wanted this; he really wanted to be good at this Tour," Schleck said. "I think he must be really down. Possibly he will win a stage."

Tour de France

Sunday: Andy Schleck beat Samuel Sanchez in a sprint, and Cadel Evans took the yellow jersey from Sylvain Chavanel.

Armstrong watch: Dropped to 39th overall, more than 13 minutes behind, saying "obviously the Tour's finished for me."

Today: Rest day

Armstrong era at French race ends 07/11/10 [Last modified: Monday, July 12, 2010 8:25am]
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