Zurich: Seven-times Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong turned in a strong performance mountainous Tour of Switzerland sixth stage when he finished fifth behind solo winner Robert Gesink.
Rabobank rider Gesink leads the overall standings with Columbia's Rigoberto Uran in second 29 seconds behind him and Switzerland's Steve Morabito third at 36 seconds while Armstrong moved up to seventh 55 adrift.
"It was a hard day, the first mountainous stage I've done since July," American Armstrong told reporters.
"It was a long day but a pretty good test too."
The 38-year-old RadioShack leader said he had a tough time at the start of the Albula, a 2,315 metre-high colossus that was the final obstacle of the 213 km stage.
"To be honest I suffered at the beginning of the Albula and I couldn't find a good rhythm. But overall I am pretty happy."
Asked if he could win Sunday's decisive time trial, Armstrong said he had no idea.
"I'd like to say yes but in the last few years my time trials have been disappointing."
As for the Tour de France, which starts on July 3, Armstrong was equally cautious.
"It'll be very hard with my age and my own struggle with time trials in the last few years."
"We'll have to be smart, lucky, and play the team card."
When Dutchman Gesink was asked who his biggest rival would be in Sunday's final race against the clock, he had far fewer doubts, saying: "Time trial specialists, and Lance Armstrong."
British sprinter Mark Cavendish failed to start the stage after his bad crash two days before.
"He's slowly getting better and he went training this morning, but he still has back pain," his team doctor Helge Riepenhof said.
First Published: Friday, June 18, 2010, 09:45