Lance Armstrong to ride the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège?
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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Armstrong to ride the Tour of Flanders and Liège

by VeloNation Press at 12:19 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège , Tour of Flanders
 

Sunday VeloNation reported that seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was planning to contest the Amstel Gold Race this year. Now, according the Nieuwsblad.be, it appears as if the American may also take the start in two more Classics - the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Armstrong's reason for adding the Tour of Flanders to his race program would be to prepare for stage three of the Tour de France, where organizers take the peloton through cobbled sections of road used in Paris-Roubaix. After the route presentation in October, the American seemed to be the overall contender most concerned about the stage.

“I think it’s an interesting course. It starts in an exciting way,” he said back in October.

“The first few days will provide a lot of drama for people between the crosswinds in Holland and the hills in and around Brussels and Spa. Of course, so too with the cobblestones when we first come into France. The cobbles themselves are dangerous but what is even more dangerous is the approach to them; the kilometers before, the nerves, the anticipation before, the positioning, that is the most dangerous part."

RadioShack team director Johan Bruyneel is intimately familiar with the roads of northern France, and his experience will be an advantage for the Texan.

“You need obviously a well-rounded team but I think you have to take some big guys who can definitely support you in that first week because with the cobble sections you have to be in the front. I remember we did those sections in 2004 and I had great support from [Viatcheslav] Ekimov and [George] Hincapie," Armstrong recalled.  "We came in the cobble zones first. It makes a big difference.”

This year Armstrong would have to do without the help of his former teammates, and thinks this time around the pavé could play a more important role than before. "There are a lot more cobbles than there were in 2004," he told the Belgian newspaper, also underscoring the dangers on the approach. "Last time I had Hincapie to lead me," he reflected, but he said he's confident his new RadioShack team can get the job done.

The newspaper said Armstrong also may include Liège-Bastogne-Liège in his race program for 2010. The race, often called La Doyenne ("the oldest"), is cycling's oldest monument. His best results in the race were two second place finishes. In 1994 he was beaten by Evgeni Berzin and in 1996, the year he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, he lost to Pascal Richard. His near misses bookended his third place in 1995. It's likely that Armstrong feels he has "unfinished business" in both Liège and Amstel, and in his last two seasons will be looking to expand his Classics palmares.

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