USPS Wins Team Time Trial; Armstrong Takes Overall Lead

Five-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong took the Tour's yellow jersey Tuesday when his U.S. Postal team blew away the competition in the Stage 4 team time trial.

Lance Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service Team won today's team time trial.

Lance Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service Team won today's team time trial.

"I think our team's better this year," Armstrong told OLN prior to the time trial. "I think we're smoother."

Indeed, the USPS team rode with impeccable style and posted a time of 1:12:03, more that a minute faster than Tyler Hamilton's Phonak team, which finished second.

Team Illes Balears-Banesto rounded out the top three while Jan Ullrich's T-Mobile team placed fourth. Roberto Heras' Liberty Seguros team placed seventh and Iban Mayo's Euskaltel-Euskadi finished eighth.

In the overall standings, USPS team members Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Azevedo José, Rubiera José Luis and Viatceslav Ekimov stand at first, second, third, fourth, fifth and seventh respectively.

Hamilton is currently in eight place in the individual standings, while Ullrich and Heras stand at 16th and 42nd respectfully. Euskaltel-Euskadi team leader Mayo currently ranks at 49th. Mayo was involved in a crash Monday that effectively took him out of the running for the Tour title.

A steady rain made for treacherous conditions on the 40-mile course from Cambrai to Arras, France. Slick streets and an uneven cobblestone section meant that riders were tossed and turned around the course. The Saeco and CSC teams suffered crashes, and USPS was forced to leave ninth rider Benjamin Noval behind when he was separated from the pack. Postal made up for the lack of personnel, however, and was able to pull ahead by a healthy mark.

Hamilton's Phonak lost multiple riders and ultimately came in with the minimal five riders for qualification. One more Phonak cyclist lost to the slick conditions could have been disastrous for the team.

Wednesday the peloton will head back to the open road for Stage 5, a 122-mile run from Amiens to Chartres.

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