Lance Armstrong has withdrawn from the Circuit de la Sarthe stage race in France after a stomach virus swept through his Radioshack squad.

The 38-year-old finished the Tour of Flanders on Sunday and completed the first stage of the stage race in the Loire region on Tuesday. Overnight he was taken ill and he did not start the second stage on Wednesday morning.

Last month, Armstrong withdrew from Milan-San Remo with an upset stomach.

Armstrong had planned to ride the Amstel Gold Race in Holland on April 18, with Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège also possible engagements. But he pulled out of Amstel Gold and will not race again in Europe for some time.

He will return to the USA as soon as he’s well enough to travel. His next major race is the Tour of California in May but there is a chance he might ride the Tour of the Gila, a small stage race in New Mexico, at the end of this month.

So, has Armstrong’s illness affected his preparation for the Tour de France?

The American has completed 15 days of racing so far this season, compared to 16 at the same stage last year.

This time last year, Armstrong was recovering from the broken collarbone he sustained in a crash at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon. He returned to Europe in May to ride the Giro d’Italia, which he finished in 12th place overall.

However, this season Radioshack will not be taking part in the Giro. Instead, Armstrong will ride the Tour of California in May. It is likely his major preparation race for the Tour de France will be the Tour of Switzerland in June, avoiding a clash with Alberto Contador at the Dauphiné Libéré.

STILL ON COURSE FOR THE TOUR?
We compare the number of days of racing Armstrong has under his belt compared to spring 2009.

ARMSTRONG IN 2010
January
Tour Down Under – six days

March
Tour of Murcia – five days
Criterium International – two days

April
Tour of Flanders – one day
Circuit de la Sarthe – one day

ARMSTRONG IN 2009
January
Tour Down Under – six days

February
Tour of California – nine days

March
Milan-San Remo – one day
Vuelta a Castilla y Leon – crashed on first day

April
Tour of the Gila

May
Giro d’Italia – 21 days

  • theswordsman

    There’s no way he’ll ride the Dauphine Libere against Contador. Their “fierce rivalry” isn’t the kind where he actually races against the object of his obsession. He would have faced Alberto at La Fleche Wallone and Liege Bastogne Liege. If he hasn’t retired by June, he’ll race the Tour de Suisse. This illness shouldn’t set him back too much. When he skipped MSR, he was soon well enough for an hour long visit with President Sarkozy and a chance to give him an expensive bike, even though LA must be a person of interest in the police investigation from last July.