For a start, it is now clear that Armstrong was not ready to win this year in any case, with 42 months of inactivity and a broken collarbone in training having taken the snap out of his legs.
Furthermore, no one doubts who’s the boss, even with Contador holding the yellow jersey and being a favorite to reach Paris on top.
Contador’s brilliant win in the Stage 18 time trial around Annecy was overshadowed Thursday by the announcement of Armstrong’s 2010 plans, with the 37-year-old breaking away from Astana to launch a new team backed by RadioShack that quickly changes the face of next year’s Tour.
Plans for what is effectively Team Armstrong have clearly been well underway for some time and offer conclusive proof that the Texan is not prepared to drift into retirement without having a good crack winning an eighth title.
From Tour king to retirement to supporting teammate to team leader - it'll be interesting to see where the next turn of Armstrong's career takes him and the sport of cycling. But for now, it's clear that while Armstrong didn't win this year's Tour, he is still very much on top of his sport.