Armstrong takes early lead in Tour's first stage

MONACO (AP) - 7-time champion Lance Armstrong has taken the early lead in the first-stage individual time trial of the Tour de France.

The 37-year-old Texan began his comeback in the Tour by clocking 20 minutes, 12.36 seconds in the 9.6-mile stage along winding and hilly roads in the Mediterranean principality on Saturday. He started 18th among the 180 riders who are rolling down the start ramp one-by-one for the race against the clock in hot and muggy weather.

Aside from Armstrong and Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer, most of the time trial specialists and prerace favorites are riding last - hours after the two Americans.

The stage is likely to offer an early shakeout of potential title contenders. Specialists in the discipline include Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland and British rider Bradley Wiggins.

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