Spanish media sources claim Lance Armstrong has changed his early race program for 2010 and will no longer take part in the Tour of Catalunya, opting instead for the Criterium International.
Citing sources within his RadioShack team, Spanish news agency EFE says that Armstrong will not take part in Catalunya, where he would have had a first encounter in 2010 with Spanish rival and former team-mate Alberto Contador (Astana) and Briton Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), who is also down to ride.
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Running from March 22-28, the tough seven-day Spanish race usually features two or three Pyrenean stages. It had been pitched as an early test of strength between three of the top four finishers in the Tour de France 2009, all of whom are expected to be contenders for the Tour in 2010.
But instead, Armstrong has now decided to drop Catalunya and will go for the Criterium International, which takes place on March 27 and 28 on the island of Corsica.
Armstrong will still take part in one race in Spain in 2010, the Tour of Murcia from March 3-7. But his first head-to-head with Contador in 2010 will now either be in the Dauphine Libere in June or in the Tour de France itself.