Lance Armstrong Starts Strong in Tour de France Comeback

07/04/2009 at 02:00 PM EDT

Lance Armstrong Starts Strong in Tour de France Comeback
Lance Armstrong
Sipa
Recovering from a broken collarbone, Lance Armstrong briefly surged into the lead on Saturday, the first day of the legendary cyclist's comeback on the Tour de France. "Stage One done," the 37-year-old, seven-time Tour champion Tweeted after finishing the first stage time trials. "Started conservative and we tried to come home strong."

The new dad started 18th out of 180 riders, with all eyes on him to see if he still has what it takes to dominate the grueling race. On a hot, muggy day, he sped his new Trek TT bike through 9.6 miles of winding hills and roads in Monaco in 20 minutes, 13 seconds, for a while the best time of the day. Other riders later clocked better times, but Armstrong seemed pleased with his effort. "I was a little all over the place," he blogged. "It was up, flat, it was down, it was a technical course. But I think, overall, I felt good."

Can Armstorng, who already owns the record with seven Tour titles, possibly add an eighth after retiring two years ago and then un-retiring? For now, he says, he's not thinking that far ahead. "I think the best way to sum it up is, I had a good time," he wrote. "I didn't have any big illusions." The race, some 2,150 miles through six countries, wraps up in Paris July 26. "Overall I'm happy with my ride," said Armstrong. "I'm ready for a hard three weeks."

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