Discovery Channel Wins Stage 4 Team Time Trial
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Team Discovery Channel has won Stage 4 in the fastest team time-trial in Tour de France history with a time of one hour, ten minutes, and 39 seconds, finishing just two seconds ahead of Team CSC, showcasing the depth of talent in the riders surrounding Lance Armstrong.
Team CSC suffered a terrible loss when their yellow-jersey clad leader David Zabriskie went down in a horrible crash just a mile before the finish line.
Tuesday’s win is the third consecutive team time trial victory for Discovery, which clocked an average speed of about 38 miles per hour over the mostly flat, 42-mile course from Tours to Blois. Every Discovery rider crossed the line with Armstrong.
“It’s a hard event,” Armstrong told the Outdoor Life Network (OLN) on his way to the podium. “But the team was unbelievable this year. Everybody rolled through. It was great.”
Jan Ulrich’s T-Mobile was third, 35 seconds off the lead and ahead of fourth finishing Liberty-Seguros, which ended the day 53 seconds behind Discovery. Phonak, in fifth place, crossed the line one minute and 31 seconds behind Discovery, despite losing all but their top five riders to fatigue.
In Monday’s time trial teams left the starting line every five minutes, riding in single file to reduce drag, with finish times calculated once the fifth rider crosses the line. The winner is awarded 20 seconds over the next fastest squad, with each subsequent team losing ten seconds for every place they finish off the lead.
Last year, Armstrong’s team, riding as U.S. Postal, beat runner-up Phonak by one minute and seven seconds, but only gained a 20-second advantage for their effort.
With teams leaving the starting line in reverse order of their ranking, the times got faster and faster as the afternoon progressed.
Team CSC, the final team to leave the starting line, blasted to an early lead by the 15 mile mark—a full 15 seconds ahead of Discovery and T-Mobile, and six seconds ahead of Liberty-Seguros.
But the lead diminished steadily over the course, dropping to just two seconds as the team reached the outskirts of Blois.
Catastrophe struck on a straightaway section in the city streets as Zabriskie, riding in the middle of the Team CSC line, apparently clipped the rider in front of him, sending him sprawling into the metal barriers.
Badly scrapped but otherwise uninjured, Zabriskie pedaled to the finish line more than a minute behind his team.
“That was the most unbelievable time trial I think I have ever witnessed in my life,” said tour commentator Bob Roll on OLN.
Armstrong will inherit the maillot jaune for tomorrow’s 114-mile Stage 5 from Chambord to Montargis.