Lance finishes the race as Sheryl makes an ugly face.

Lance finishes the race as Sheryl makes an ugly face.

I wanted some drama, and today’s stage was dramatic alright.

Stage 4 was the team time trial, in which each team rides seperately to see who can get five guys to the finish line in the shortest time. The leading time crept down throughout the day until Lance Armstrong’s Discovery team, the second-to-last team to finish, came in with a time of 1 hour, 10 minutes and 39 seconds. That left only Team CSC and current leader Dave Zabriskie with a chance to challenge.

CSC was pushing toward the finish line, looking like they had a good chance to beat Discovery, when suddenly Zabriskie hit the pavement, hard. It was hard to see in the replays exactly what happened to him ā€” whether he touched the wheel of the rider ahead of him or made contact with the barrier ā€” but in any case, this was yet another case of the dreadful bad luck that seems to befall anyone with the temerity to challenge Armstrong.

The other members of Team CSC, only momentarily distracted, went on to finish 2 seconds behind Discovery, while Zabriskie pedaled gingerly to the finish line looking like a broken man. It was painful to behold. I can’t really put it better than this dispatch from the official Tour de France Web site:

17:11 – Armstrong Wins Again
The yellow jersey will be worn by Lance Armstrong in the fifth stage. Dave Zabriskie is still limping to the finish line after crashing in the final 1,200m of the stage. His yellow jersey is torn and blood is dropping out of open wounds on his arms and legs.