More shorts: Lance, Freire, Valverde

A very famous figure joins the masses climbing the Alpe on Monday, Freire 'abandons' the Tour for a

A very famous figure joins the masses climbing the Alpe on Monday, Freire 'abandons' the Tour for a

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

A substantial number of cyclists have battled their way up the already packed crowds on Alpe d'Huez during today's Tour rest day, but only one of them had seven Tour wins to their credit. Yes, Lance Armstrong was back on French soil and on the mountain where he enjoyed one of his finest moments in winning the Tour time trial up the famous climb in 2004. The Texan is reportedly planning to watch Tuesday's Alpe stage on TV, and will spend Wednesday in the Discovery Channel team car with team manager Johan Bruyneel. He is then expected to rejoin his former team-mates for Sunday's finish in Paris.

- Oscar Freire 'abandoned' the Tour on Sunday evening to return to his home in the Swiss city of Lugano to visit see his son Marcos, who was born on Sunday afternoon. The double stage-winner was given special dispensation by the Tour organisers and the race jury to return to leave the race, and was due to return to his Rabobank team's hotel on Monday evening.

- Alejandro Valverde is back training on his bike less than two weeks after he was forced to abandon the Tour with a broken collar-bone. After a half hour on-road test on Saturday, the Caisse d'Epargne team leader covered 80km on Sunday and is planning to cover similar distances in the coming days as he builds up to his next objective, the Vuelta, which starts in the last week of August. Valverde admitted he was still feeling pain in his shoulder, but said that was hardly surprising as the operation to reset the bone only took place just over a week ago.

The Spaniard is hoping he might be able to return to racing at the Tour of Burgos in early August. In the meantime, he admitted his spirits have been lifted considerably by the sight of team-mate Oscar Pereiro in the yellow jersey. "He's a very classy rider, and now we will see how he goes in the Alps. He has to give all that he has, but remain calm and not feel pressured," said Valverde.

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