Armstrong Wins Stage, Takes Tour de France Lead

From Staff and Wire Reports

American cyclist Lance Armstrong, who two years ago faced life-threatening cancer, blazed to victory in Sunday's eighth stage of the Tour de France, propelling himself into first place in overall rankings.

"I'm very happy," the 27-year-old Armstrong said in French after he won the 35-mile time trial through the university town of Metz, capital of the Lorraine region.

Armstrong finished the stage in 1 hour 8 minutes and 36 seconds--58 seconds faster than Alex Zulle of Switzerland. Frenchman Christophe Moreau came in third, 2 minutes 5 seconds behind Armstrong.

Armstrong was considered a favorite for the time trial since winning the race prologue, also a time trial. He wore the yellow jersey for two days before losing it to Estonia's Jaan Kirsipuu.

"I'm glad I won the yellow jersey a week ago because I was really nervous while I had it," Armstrong said. "Maybe now I'll be less nervous."


Tour de France

* Sunday's eighth stage--A 35-mile time trial in the city of Metz.

* Stage winner--American Lance Armstrong, riding for the U.S. Postal Service team, won the trial in a time of 1 hour 8 minutes 36 seconds, at an average speed of 30.7 mph.

* Others--In second place for the eighth stage was Alex Zulle of Switzerland, and Frenchman Christophe Moreau came in third. The world time-trial champion, Abraham Olano of Spain, came in fourth, followed by American Tyler Hamilton, also of U.S. Postal. Another American, Bobby Julich, who came in third in the Tour last year, fell during a steep descent and was forced to abandon the race. Julich was riding for the French Cofidis team.

* Overall--Armstrong regained the leader's yellow jersey. Moreau moved into second place, 20 seconds behind the leader. Olano edged up to third place, 33 seconds back. Estonian Jaan Kirsipuu, riding for the Casino team, slipped from first place overall into 11th place.

* Next stage--Today is a rest day. Tuesday, a 132.7-mile Alpine ride from Le Grand Bornand in the French Alps to Sestrieres in Italy.

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