Did Armstrong Want to Punish Riis with His Stage 10 Performance?

Martin Durgand's posting after Stage 10 suggested that Lance Armstrong may have been motivated to smash the peloton on the way to Courchevel yesterday to send a message to Biarne Riis, Team CSC's Directeur Sportif. Durgand pointed out, "Last Tuesday Bjarne Riis of the CSC team went on record as saying Armstrong was lucky to be wearing the yellow jersey. Lucky? Armstrong is driven by quotes like that. They don�t cow him, they make him stronger."

Durgand probably has a point because after the finish yesterday, Armstrong said:

When someone says that a person who�s won the Tour de France six times is lucky to win the yellow jersey... that�s not respect. That�s not honest. That�s not true. That�s not reality. The riders on {Team CSC} are some of the classiest in cycling. We race the team, not the team directors. I saved that comment on the hard drive when I read it.

The question I had when I read this was, exactly what did Riis say that provoked this reaction? For an answer, I turned to an article written after the Stage 4 Team Time Trial by Suzanne Haliburton. Suzanne is a journalist from the Austin American-Statesman whom I met at the Dodge Tour de Georgia. Here's how Haliburton presented what Riis said:

"I think we should have won today, but once again, Armstrong was the lucky guy," said CSC team director Bjarne Riis. "Obviously, the crash was what made the difference today. I was confident that we could win today based on the previous time splits.

"Right now, it's hard to find anything positive at the moment, since this stage was one that we had really worked hard on. Everything went as it was supposed to until the very end."

I think Riis was trying to say that CSC would have won the Team Time Trial if Dave Zabriskie hadn't crashed, but he made the mistake of calling Armstrong "lucky" in the process. Should Riis have expected that Armstrong would have reacted the way he did? Playing off of the words and perceived slights from others is one of the ways that Lance has motivated himself in the past. [ Registration required to read articles from the Austin American-Statesman ]

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