Armstrong heads to France to prepare for Tour, questions over Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse participation
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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Armstrong heads to France to prepare for Tour, questions over Dauphiné and Tour de Suisse participation

by Conal Andrews at 7:23 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Tour de Suisse
 
Texan still chasing form

Bashed by a crash during the Tour of California and buffeted by this week’s allegations by Floyd Landis that he doped, Lance Armstrong is continuing with his plans to ride the Tour de France, and will soon head to Europe to prepare.

According to L'Equipe, the Texan will arrive in France on Monday to train for the race, and will most likely work out of his European base at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat near Nice.

Armstrong stayed in the area at times last year, and will presumably test himself on the Col du Madone climb once again. He has many years of records of his times on the mountain and will use that as one way to gauge his form.

The 38 year old is battling to get into the kind of shape needed to beat Alberto Contador and the other contenders for the Tour. He was unable to go with RadioShack team-mate Levi Leipheimer, Dave Zabriskie (Garmin Transitions) and Michael Rogers (HTC Columbia) when they attacked on the Boony Doon climb on Wednesday’s third stage of the Tour of California, but did show signs of improving form.

However team manger Johan Bruyneel admits that he must continue to gain strength. “Physically, Lance doesn’t feel super,” he said, according to Sporza. “He will just have to work a little harder, but that's part of the job. He knows what to do, he has had bigger problems in his career to overcome.”

Armstrong suffered a badly cut cheek and a bruised elbow in Thursday’s crash. The injuries are not lasting ones and he should not experience any serious interruption to his training.

"That fall was a new setback, but won’t put the Tour de France or the rest of his season in jeopardy,” said Bruyneel. “As a professional cyclist, you can handle anything," said Bruyneel.

The second season of his comeback has been a complicated one, both due to fluctuating form and a stomach virus. He was 25th overall in the Tour Down Under, then eighth in the time trial and seventh overall in the Vuelta a Murcia, but was off pace in the mountains of the Critérium International. He finished 47th overall there after taking 15th in the time trial. The Tour of Flanders was encouraging, in terms of his aggressive ride there en route to 27th, yet a stomach problem ruled him out of the Circuit de la Sarthe.

He missed the Ardennes Classics and then returned to racing in the Tour of the Gila, where he supported Leipheimer’s successful bid for victory.

There is some confusion about what races he will do before the Tour. He is not expected to compete in the Dauphiné Libéré, from June 6-13 yet, according to L'Equipe, a source has told them that the Tour de Suisse is also unlikely.

If so, it means he would not have an opportunity to line up against his main rivals and thus gauge his form prior to the Tour start on July third.

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