Armstrong Takes Lead, Sheryl Rides Along

07/13/2005 at 08:00 AM EDT

Armstrong Takes Lead, Sheryl Rides Along
Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow
OLIVIER HOSLET/EPA/Landov

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow

Once again sporting the yellow jersey – and with girlfriend Sheryl Crow not far from him – Lance Armstrong took a giant step toward a seventh consecutive Tour victory on Tuesday, reclaiming the overall lead and distancing himself from his main rivals on the first Alpine climb of the race.

In a sprint to the finish line, the 33-year-old, six-time Tour champion finished second to Spain's Alejandro Valverde in the 10th stage, a 111-mile trek up to the ski resort of Courchevel. En route, Armstrong built a 38-second overall lead and moved well ahead of challengers Alexandre Vinokourov, Jan Ullrich and Andreas Kloeden – to finish the stage in 4 hours, 50 minutes, 35 seconds.

As for Crow, the 43-year-old singer also cycled the most difficult leg of the course, including the difficult hairpin bends of L'Alpe D'Huez. "I did the whole stretch even though I might not have set a new record," Crow told reporters. "It was extremely difficult."

After the stage, Armstrong shot back at doubters who suggested his Discovery Team might be vulnerable after struggling in a moderately difficult stage Saturday, the Associated Press reports.

"To say the guy who has won the Tour de France six times is lucky to take the jersey again ... how you can say those things I have no idea," Armstrong said. "That's not respectful, that's not true, and that's not reality."

Wednesday's next stage (the Tour ends in Paris on July 24) is a difficult, 108-mile run through the Alps over three famed ascents.

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