JAMEY KEATEN,Associated Press Writer LUGANO, Switzerland / Fabian Cancellara won the prologue of the Tour of Switzerland on Saturday, while Lance Armstrong finished far back in the start of his last race before the Tour de France.
Cancellara, who won the Paris-Roubaix in April, finished the 4.7-mile time trial in 10 minutes, 21 seconds around the lakeside town of Lugano.
On a muggy, overcast day with intermittent rain, Roman Kreuziger of the Czech Republic was a second behind the Swiss leader. Tony Martin of Germany was in third place, 3 seconds off Cancellara’s pace.
Armstrong was 44th overall, 29 seconds back. The seven-time Tour de France champion looked solid through the one minor climb, but then appeared to ride gingerly on slick roads close to the finish.
The Texan didn’t speak to the media afterward, but Cancellara said, “Whether he’s 44th or second or third, I think he comes here for preparation. He will perform very well in the next few days.”
Armstrong woke up Saturday to a find a drug tester calling from cycling’s governing body.
“That knocking on the door at 8am can only be one thing. Yep, doping control,” Armstrong said in a message posted on Twitter early in the day.
Germano Casarotti, a cycling official in charge of anti-doping controls at this race, told The Associated Press that 88 riders were tested before Saturday’s start. Results are not yet known. The sport has been working to overcome doping scandals that have battered its image.
Cancellara, the world champion time trialist, had said his top priority in this race was to win the prologue, and he showed why he’s among the fastest riders in time-trial descents. At the intermediate time check — near the top of the climb at the midway point — he was 8 seconds behind Martin.
“The pressure was for sure big; riding in my home country, I won last year, best prologue rider in the world,” Cancellara said. “People said, ‘Hey, you’re going to win anyway,’ but everybody has to ride.”
The Saxo Bank cyclist has been at the center of speculation that some riders may be using tiny motors hidden in their bike frames. Cancellara has strongly denied reports he won the Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders this year with the help of an electric bike.
“These rumors and talking and all the things going around, I think it’s not necessary for cycling,” Cancellara said. “It’s not necessary to look at my bike. … Cycling doesn’t need that.”
The nine-day Tour of Switzerland features some of the toughest climbs Armstrong will have faced this year in preparation for the Tour de France, which begins July 3. But few of his expected Tour de France rivals are at this race, aside from Cancellara’s Saxo teammates Andy and Frank Schleck of Luxembourg.
Alberto Contador, the defending Tour de France champion and perhaps the top contender to repeat, is not in Switzerland. Contador won Saturday’s sixth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine in France.
Other top Tour de France title threats are also absent. Many are recuperating from last month’s punishing Giro d’Italia, including winner Ivan Basso of Italy and Cadel Evans of Australia, who was fifth.
Sunday’s 104-mile stage from Ascona to Sierra features a tough climb — the Simplon pass in the Alps. The race ends June 20.