Lance Armstrong dropped from fifth to 18th in the Tour de France standings and trails the main contenders on Wednesday after a flat tire cost him significant time during the third stage of the race.
Although the 38-year-old American posted his best time trial result in five years before handling treacherous cobblestones sections with authority on Tuesday, Armstrong is already in trouble following the first three stages of the Tour de France.
Armstrong, who got off to a strong start in the Tour with a fourth-place finish in last week's prologue, had another strong display during Tuesday's daunting third stage from Wanze, Belgium, to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, which featured seven sectors of cobbles.
The cyclist began the stage ahead of his rivals, but lost about 45 seconds when he punctured in the penultimate sector of cobblestones.
Armstrong placed 32nd, 2:08 behind.
"Sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail," Armstrong told reporters at his team bus. "Today I was the nail. I have 20 days now to be the hammer."