Lance Armstrong in Fifth Place after Prologue

News & Results

06/3/2010| 0 comments
by AP, with additional commentary by
Lance Armstrong. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Lance Armstrong. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Lance Armstrong in Fifth Place after Prologue

Lance Armstrong split with former teammate and rival Alberto Contador, yet that hasn't made the seven-time Tour de France champion any more comfortable.

Lance Armstrong split with former teammate and rival Alberto Contador, yet that hasn't made the seven-time Tour de France champion any more comfortable.

Precisely the opposite.

With the Tour starting in less than a month, on July 3 in the Netherlands harbor of Rotterdam, Armstrong said he could have more pressure being the leader of his new RadioShack team than when he was riding with Contador on last year's Astana team.

"Last year at the Tour I felt absolutely no pressure," Armstrong said at the Tour of Luxembourg, where he finished fifth Wednesday in the prologue during his first race since crashing last month at the Tour of California.

"It was not my team, I didn't take a salary," he said of last year's Tour. "I was there just riding, just to do everything with my [Livestrong] foundation."

Armstrong returned to competition last season following a 3½-year retirement. He joined Contador's Astana team, where his friend and mentor Johan Bruyneel was sports director.

Tension between Armstrong and Contador arose and the 27-year-old Spaniard ended up winning the Tour while Armstrong had to be content with a third-place finish in the showcase event.

Armstrong and Bruyneel then left the team to launch their new team, RadioShack.

"This year is different," said the 38-year-old Armstrong. "This is my team. We put the team together and we organized it, we organized the money, so with that comes pressure."

Armstrong's season has been hampered by injuries and illness, and he is now trying to make up for the racing miles he lost. After the Tour of Luxembourg, which he won 12 years ago after recovering from cancer, he will also take part in the Tour of Switzerland from June 12-20.

In April, Armstrong rode only one stage at the Circuit de la Sarthe before pulling out with a stomach illness and temporarily suspending all his racing. In March, he withdrew from the Milan-San Remo, citing acute gastroenteritis.

"This year has been kind of a year of speed bumps, little hiccups or false starts," he said.

Armstrong has completed only four stage races: the Tour Down Under in January, the Vuelta a Murcia and the Criterium International in March and the minor Tour of the Gila in New Mexico.

"We're here, it's early June now, it's time to try and minimize all these distractions and the potential issues," Armstrong said. "I came here to get four or five extra race days and hopefully Switzerland will provide those too. Indications we're getting now are good, and indications we were getting in California before the crash were good."

Armstrong, in his second year of his comeback following retirement in 2005, crashed out of the Tour of California on May 20, hurting his elbow and sustaining a cut under his left eye.

"I still have some lingering effects but it's nothing that's going to keep me from training hard, racing hard," Armstrong said. "The biggest problem was the eye, but it's OK. The biggest problem I have now is the elbow. It's still a little sore, but it's OK."

The Luxembourg event is also Armstrong's first race since his former U.S. Postal teammate Floyd Landis admitted doping throughout his career and alleged that Armstrong and several other elite American riders were involved, too.

Armstrong denied any wrongdoing.

"I wouldn't say it's quiet," Armstrong said, when asked about Landis' allegations. "Nobody needs to feel sorry for me. I'm fine."

On Wednesday, Armstrong finished the 1.66-mile prologue in fifth place, with a time of 3 minutes, 51 seconds. Jimmy Engoulvent of France, who finished 10 seconds ahead of Armstrong, took the race leader's jersey.

"It was obviously short, fast, not my specialty but when you had to accelerate, when we had to use true power, absolute power, I felt like I had that," Armstrong said.

The first real stage Thursday is a 112-mile ride from Luxembourg to Hesperange.

Your comments
Your comments
sign up or login to post a comment