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With just one more major race now left in his career, Lance Armstrong has said that he is very happy with how both he and his Discovery Channel team are shaping up before the Tour de France. Armstrong finished fourth at last week's Dauphin Libr, just 59 seconds behind surprise winner I¤igo Landaluze of Euskaltel. Just as importantly, his Discovery team was the strongest in the race, winning the team competition by more than seven minutes.
"I have to say that the last stage of the race really amused me," Armstrong told La Dernire Heure after finishing third in Sallanches behind team-mates George Hincapie and Yaroslav Popovych. "It was nice to play the role of team-mate, to tell other riders that I couldn't ride because I had two team-mates in front. I have come out of this Dauphin more serene and less stressed than last year. I'm at about 80-85% of my top level and I know exactly what work I need to do after this week."
With the new team time trial event at Eindhoven on June 19 only set to feature six riders from each team rather than the nine that most Tour teams will be able to call on a couple of weeks later in the same discipline, Armstrong is believed to be sidestepping this event and all other races before the start of the Tour. As Armstrong admitted, his team already seems well prepared for the tests ahead in July.
"George Hincapie and Yaroslav Popovych's performance have made me realise that my team is ready. I expect a lot of them but they have always been up to the challenge in July, and I believe that will be the case again this year," said Armstrong. "George is in really good form and Yaroslav held himself back a bit this week at our request. He must be ready for July and he has worked with that goal in mind."
Discovery team manager Johan Bruyneel was also happy coming away from the Dauphin. "It all went well for Lance. Without being super, Lance is exactly where he needs to be taking into account his lack of racing. He was very consistent, there is no need to be worried," said Bruyneel.
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