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Lance Armstrong
"It's good to be ahead."
 real 28k

Monday, 17 July, 2000, 17:19 GMT
Armstrong asks for balance
Lance Armstrong could retain his Tour crown
Lance Armstrong could retain his Tour crown
American Lance Armstrong, who looks set to win his second successive Tour de France, has rejected comparisons with five-time winners Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain.

Armstrong, who has a lead of seven minutes, 26 seconds over his nearest rival Jan Ullrich of Germany, said: "It would be crazy for me to say I will win five in a row.

I'll keep on trying, but I can't promise I'll win five
  Lance Armstrong
"If I want to win five, I will have to ride six or seven because there are lots of other good riders and you can't win every year.

"If I have the motivation through all the years, I will do it, but I can't promise. If I still love the sport and love what I do, I'll do it, but I can't promise it."

Eddy Merckx is one of the Tour's legends
Eddy Merckx is one of the Tour's legends
The Texan rider is in an ideal position to become the second American to retain the Tour crown, 10 years after three-times winner Greg LeMond.

But he admits he is still a long way from the record of five-time winners Belgian Merckx, Spaniard Indurain or Frenchmen Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil.

Asked if he could maintain his motivation, he said: "Probably not. I don't have the desire to do that because I have a great family I want to spend a lot more time with."

Heroic win

Another Armstrong victory would be sure to send the cycling world into raptures.

Last year, his two main rivals, Italian Marco Pantani and Ullrich, did not start. But this year he has outclassed both.

Germany's Jan Ullrich is Armstrong's closest rival
Germany's Jan Ullrich is Armstrong's closest rival
"It's a shame that they weren't there last year, it's a good thing they got here this year," Armstrong said.

"I feel good compared to last year, I felt strong before, even in training, but I have to admit I'm a little surprised by the lead."

Armstrong hinted that Ullrich's performance had been below-par and claimed the German had got his pre-race preparation wrong.

"I had no idea what to expect as I never raced against Jan Ullrich at that level," he said.

"I'm surprised with the advantage. It does not change my respect for him. I think he maybe has to be a little serious in the winter. It's not a reproach. He's a classy rider. A gentleman."

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See also:

16 Jul 00 |  Tour de France
Pantani plunders stage win
16 Jul 00 |  Tour de France
Brotherton's Tour moment - stage 15
16 Jul 00 |  Tour de France
Millar's Tour agonies
16 Jul 00 |  Tour de France
Le Tour: Stage 15 roadwatch
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