Visibly more than satisfied with his fifth place in the Tour de Suisse’s toughest mountain stage on Thursday, Lance Armstrong refused to rule out victory in the Tour de France come July.
“I don’t think any of us [himself, RadioShack team-mates Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden] will be favourites for the Tour de France, but between the three of us you never know what can happen,” Armstrong, now seventh overall in Suisse 55 seconds behind Gesink, said afterwards, “We will have a strong team.”
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That’s something hard to disagree with after all three RadioShack riders were present in the front group for most of the Albula pass, the last big ascent of Suisse’s stage six, although Armstrong performed the best of the RadioShack team.
“It was a very hard day,” Armstrong added, “the first big mountain stage since July.” [of 2009], “but I’m pleased with my performance.”
As for winning the time trial in the Tour de Suisse on Sunday, Armstrong was much more cautious. “It’s tough to say, I’d like to say yes but in the last few years my time trials have been disappointing.”
“It was a good test,” said Johan Bruyneel, Armstrong’s long-standing team manager, “particularly as Lance hasn’t done mountains like that since the Tour de France last year.”
“We wanted to play it cautiously, to see how his legs responded to the climbing, and we’re pleased with the result.”
“Today Robert Gesink [stage winner] was better than anybody, but Lance showed why he won seven Tours.”