Shorts: Lance, Women's World Cup

Lance Armstrong may ride at the Worlds but may have ridden in Belgium for the last time, while Mirja

Lance Armstrong may ride at the Worlds but may have ridden in Belgium for the last time, while Mirja
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM US Cycling's director of competition, Jiri Mainus, has hinted that Lance Armstrong may appear in national colours at the World Championships in Madrid on September 20-25. "At the moment we think there is a good chance that he is in Madrid," said Mainus after looking over both the road and time trial courses at the end of last week." Mainus suggested that the road circuit in the Spanish capital would suit 1993 world road champion Armstrong, as does the time trial course, which he described as "very selective". Mainus added that "whether we come with Armstrong or not the United States will have a great team, and just one of its stars will be Bobby Julich." - Armstrong's rapid departure from the Tour of Flanders without apparently giving anyone his impressions on a race where he did all he could to take team-mates George Hincapie and Stijn Devolder up to the leading break has only added to the growing swirl of rumour about his immediate future. His Discovery Channel team have called a press conference for April 18, prior to the start of the Tour de Georgia, and some media sources are already claiming that Armstrong is set to announce at that point when he will make his retirement from the sport. For the moment, this claim is not backed up by any substantial evidence at all. What does seem a stronger possibility is that Armstrong may well have competed in Belgium for the last time. Speaking to La Dernire Heure, Discovery team manager Johan Bruyneel admitted "that is very possible. But I would prefer for him to speak about that subject himself. But there is no problem for the Tour, he will be at the start." Bruyneel said that Armstrong "did not feel too great today, especially in the final stages. But he looks excellent in terms of his condition for the Tour." Team-mate Devolder commented that "Lance, George and myself were all in pretty similar shape today. I didn't have a good race, when the decisive move was made on the Valkenberg I was too far from the front." Armstrong is expected to make his next racing appearance in Europe at the Dauphin Libr on June 5-12 - Holland's Mirjam Melchers won the Tour of Flanders, the fourth leg of the women's World Cup, which took place yesterday. Covering the same final run-in to the finish as the men's race, including 12 bergs over the 118km raced, the second edition of this race was decided when Melchers attacked just before the Muur de Grammont, 24km from home. Melchers was joined on the climb by her Buitenpoort team-mate Susanne Ljungskog, but the Swede could not stay with the Dutch rider over the Bosberg, leaving Melchers to enjoy a fine solo win in front of the throng of fans packed into Meerbeke. The victory moved Melchers into the World Cup lead, ahead of Australia's Oenone Wood, with Ljungskog now third. The fifth race in the series is Flche Wallonne, which takes place on April 20. 1 Mirjam Melchers (Hol) Buitenpoort-Flexpoint 118km in 3.13.00 (36.68kph) 2 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) Buitenpoort 0.07 3 Monia Baccaille (Ita) Italy 1.23 4 Monica Holler (Swe) Elk Haus 5 Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Italy 6 Magali Le Floc'h (Fra) France 7 Suzanne de Goede (Hol) Van Bemelen 8 Sabrina Emmasi (Ita) Biglia 9 Elisabeth Chevanne-Brunel (Fra) Pruneaux d'Agen 10 Barbara Lancioni (Ita) SS Lazio Ciclismo Britain's Nicole Cooke was one of 61 riders who abandoned the race. World Cup overall 1 Mirjam Melchers (Hol) Buitenpoort-Flexpoint 126 2 Oenone Wood (Aus) Nurnberger 115 3 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) Buitenpoort 102 4 Suzanne de Goede (Hol) Van Bemelen 99 5 Trixi Worrack (Ger) Nurnberger 80 8 Nicole Cooke (GB) Safi Pasta 50
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