- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 7, 2002

From combined dispatches
LUXEMBOURG Lance Armstrong might have been the only cyclist surprised by his fast start in the Tour de France.
Armstrong, starting his bid for a fourth title, won yesterday's 7-kilometer (4.34-mile) prologue in 9 minutes, 8 seconds.
"It's a surprise and a good surprise I'm happier than you think." he said.
Armstrong beat Frenchman Laurent Jalabert by two seconds and Raimondas Rumsas of Lithuania by three.
Armstrong, the overwhelming favorite of cycling's premier event, claimed the leader's yellow jersey.
A break in afternoon rain gave Armstrong the opening he needed on the winding, hilly course made treacherous by drizzle.
"The weather was so-so, but I saw that the sun was coming out just before I started," Armstrong said in an interview on France-2 Television."I was lucky that the course was dry."
As defending champion, Armstrong was the last of the 189 riders to start. He was cheered by fans as he raced through the streets of this tiny country's capital, beating Jalabert's impressive time.
The victory marked only the second time the U.S Postal Service team leader has won the event's prologue. He won the prologue in 1999, the same year he punctuated his comeback from cancer by winning the race.
It was the U.S. Postal leader's 12th stage victory in the Tour and his seventh in an individual time trial. He has won the Dauphine Libere and Midi Libre races this season.
Colombia's Santiago Botero, the Kelme team leader, was fourth in 9:12, with Briton David Millar, the prologue winner in 2000, fifth in 9:13.
As titleholder, Armstrong had the right to wear the yellow jersey from the start, but wore his team colors instead.
"I wanted a suit that was broken in, so to speak," Armstrong said. "And then, I don't know if it's right that I start in the yellow jersey, because it was last year it was a completely different race."
"I wanted to look down and see a team jersey and say 'The yellow one is out there, and you have to earn that,'" he added.
Asked whether he would try defending his yellow jersey in the next few stages, Armstrong said, "I think probably not. We'll wait for the team time trial [on Wednesday]."
Millar, 25, will wear the white jersey for the best young rider in today's first stage, while Jalabert, last year's King of the Mountains, has the green jersey.
Armstrong warmed up in the practice area with his wife Kristin and their three children by his side. It was the first time his family has been with him at the Tour start.
"It was special and it's perhaps why I was so motivated today," Armstrong said. "It's becoming harder and harder for me to leave and go to the races, and leave behind the children."
Noticeably absent from this Tour was Jan Ullrich, the 1997 Tour winner and runner-up the last two years. The German was sidelined by a knee injury in May and recently tested positive for amphetamines.
Armstrong's top challengers this year include Spaniard Joseba Beloki of Once, the third-place finisher the last two years. He completed the prologue in ninth place, 13 seconds behind Armstrong.
French star Richard Virenque, returning from a ban related to doping charges, finished 23rd, 18 seconds behind the leader.
Didier Rous of the Bonjour team fell shortly after leaving the starting gate and had to use a replacement bike. The Frenchman sat in 163rd place, more than a minute off the pace.
The start in Luxembourg marked the 14th time the event started outside France. Today's first stage is a hilly, 119.35-mile run through the countryside and medieval towns of the tiny Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, one of Europe's smallest countries.
The three-week Tour covers 2,034.8 miles, making it one of the shortest ever. The race ends in Paris on July 28.

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