Lance Armstrong’s broken collarbone is worse than thought, but the seven-time Tour de France champion said Tuesday he believed he could still be fit for the Giro d’Italia after surgery on Wednesday.
“It’s a very common cycling injury, so you hear of guys who have raced two weeks later, and guys who have raced two months later. In my opinion, I think the Giro is still very doable,” Armstrong said in a teleconference from Austin, Texas, where he was to have surgery on Wednesday morning.
The US cycling legend broke his collarbone when he fell along with several other riders about 20 kilometres (32 miles) from the finish line of the first stage of the Tour of Castilla y Leon in central Spain on Monday.
The surgery, which involves inserting a metal plate to stabilize the injury, was decided on after further tests showed his collarbone was “in quite a few more pieces than we originally thought,” Armstrong said.
A cancer survivor who went on to claim a record seven Tour de France crowns, Armstrong ended a three-and-a-half year retirement at the Tour Down Under in Australia in January. The 37-year-old declared his goal this year is to win an eighth Tour de France title.
Armstrong called the accident “the biggest setback I’ve had in my cycling career”.
“Fortunately I’ve done a lot of off-season work that I think will help me through this,” he said. “I think my condition was really coming to a place where I was going to be able to ride at the front of the races and that’s good news/bad news.
“Bad news that I wasn’t able to show it in the races, but the good news is that if you get injured with good form you can come back with decent form – you aren’t starting from rock bottom.”
Johan Bruyneel, manager of Armstrong’s Astana team, had already said in Spain that he believed Armstrong could be back in action for the Giro, with the American’s prospects of racing in the Tour de France even better.
“A broken collarbone in March does not change anything as regards the Tour de France,” which starts on July 4, Bruyneel said.
“For the moment, we are sticking largely with the same schedule. He was going to be leaving for the US after this race and then come back for the Giro, so for the moment nothing has changed,” he told reporters before the start of the second stage of the Tour of Castilla y Leon in central Spain.
“Personally, I think it is still possible to take part in the Giro,” which starts on May 9, but he is “still going to be less fit,” said the Belgian.
Armstrong said that once he got over the initial shock of the crash, he couldn’t be surprised that such a thing had finally happened to him.
“It’s part of racing, and to go as long as I’ve gone without having something happening like this is basically a miracle,” he said.
© AFP 2009