Lance Armstrong may look fitter than he did this time last year when he started his comeback at the Tour Down Under, but this year's race is no easy ride.
The seven time Tour de France winner suffered in the heat today, like everybody else, but said that what has made the racing really hard is the riders. "Unless you told everyone not to start training until January first it's going to be hard," he said at the end of stage three to Stirling.
"You have this mix of the fact it's now ProTour and you have new teams with new sponsors, worldwide exposure, young guys that want to show early on... So all that stuff comes together and makes for a hard race. There's an intersection of a bunch of different priorities that makes it really hard, for I think everybody"
"In the sprint there were top guys - you saw it was spread out across the road - all the guys looked around and said, 'I can't go'."
Today's parcours was tough, and there was little respite in the bunch with no break away groups allowed to escape and take the pressure off. The final finishing circuit was especially hard, with the pace rarely letting up and the bunch splitting under the pressure.
"I guess I felt better this year and sat in a better position," Armstrong said.
"If you're 30 or 40 back and some one opens the position, it's hard to come around them. You can only do that one or two times. And then you get that roundabout with two kilometres to go and if you're not in a good spot there it's your day over."
Tour Down Under 2010: Race reports
Tour Down Under, stage three: Cardoso takes win ahead of Valverde
Tour Down Under, stage two: Greipel takes win number two
Tour Down Under, stage one: Greipel takes back sprint crown Cancer Council Helpline Classic: Team Sky off to perfect start as Henderson wins
Tour Down Under 2010: Related links
Downing adapts to embrace new challenge
Hayman admits to nerves before Sky's debut
Tour Down Under news round-up (Jan 16)
Armstrong leads thousands on Twitter ride in Adelaide
Team Sky ready for first race
Armstrong warms up Down Under
Armstrong in Australia: "I'm in better shape than last year"
Team Sky gets ready for Tour Down Under
Tour Down Under 2010: Start list
Lance Armstrong to ride 2010 Tour Down Under
Cadel Evans and BMC to ride Tour Down Under
Tour Down Under teams confirm rosters
Davis wins 2009 Tour Down Under
Tour Down Under 2010: Photo galleries
TDU stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
TDU stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Cancer Council Helpline Classic
Armstrong in Adelaide
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