Lance: 'The Tour does not start on Saturday'

Lance Armstrong reveals how he eased off near the top of the Ventoux having heard he was already a m

Lance Armstrong reveals how he eased off near the top of the Ventoux having heard he was already a m
The scale of Lance Armstrong's defeat on the Ventoux might have been surprising, but speaking to the press three hours after the stage finish the Texan was quick to remind everyone that the Tour is still a month away and that his best form is yet to come. He admitted to being slightly disappointed with his performance on the stage that was his main reason for coming to the Dauphin. "I thought I would be able to go quicker today. I realised that my form is still not at 100% yet," he said. "I started carefully. From the fifth kilometre when the road really rises up I got into a good rhythm. But hearing about the [one-minute] gap between Mayo and me at Chalet Reynard, I didn't exactly slow down but I was less insistent. But I am not worried because the Tour de France does not start this Saturday. "As far as Alpe d'Huez is concerned, I am very happy with the equipment I was testing today, and I think it will be more advantageous to me there than on the Ventoux, which is the hardest climb in France. Alpe d'Huez will be an effort of 36-37 minutes, the suffering won't last as long." The US Postal team leader said that the Ventoux result hadn't changed his opinion on who his Tour rivals are likely to be. He picked out Ullrich, Hamilton, Mayo, Alexandre Vinokourov, Ivan Basso - "he seems to be taking it easy here but in July he will be dangerous" - and Roberto Heras. "There are lots of big names, but I still rate Jan Ullrich as my principal adversary. He is the most experienced, he is always very strong in the last week. I don't know why, but it is him I fear the most." Armstrong admitted that he would be staying in close contact with his team-mates, saying, "I feel that they are a bit stressed by the situation of our sponsor, US Postal, pulling out at the end of the year and the need for us to find another. Several factors lead me to say that I will still be around in 2005, but it is stressing."
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