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 Friday, 25 October, 2002, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Armstrong regrets Ventoux absence
Lance Armstrong en route to victory in this year's Tour de France
Armstrong had hoped to tackle Ventoux
Four-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is disappointed that Mount Ventoux has been excluded from the 2003 Tour route.

Armstrong is the hot favourite to win next year's race after the hilly itinerary was unveiled on Thursday.

A series of taxing mountain stages and two individual time trials should play into the hands of the Texan.

But he insisted there was just one major absence.

"You see, for me this race is always the same - two individual time trials, one team time trials, the Alps, the Pyrenees and the finish in Paris.

I love the Tour de France - it's my life.

Lance Armstrong

"My only regret is the Ventoux."

The infamous Ventoux is seen as one of the toughest climbs in world cycling.

Back in the 1960s, British cyclist Tom Simpson collapsed and died as he struggled to tackle the summit.

Victory for Armstrong next season would see him equal the record of Tour wins already recorded by Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain.

The 31-year-old, though, is refusing to get carried away about his place in the record books.

He told French newspaper l'Equipe about what is the centenary Tour: "I'm going to take this Tour as if it was my first, not like a possible fifth victory in my record books.

Armstrong factfile
DOB: 18.09.1971
Nationality: American
Team: US Postal
Tour best: Winner - 1999-2002

"It's a historical Tour for sure, but for me it's a new Tour, with the usual dangers."

Should Armstrong win next season and in 2004, as many predict he will, he will become the first cyclist ever to have won the event six times.

And, when asked if he planned to return to France in 2004, he said, "probably".

Looking back at the achievements of those in the 1903 race, which was won by Maurice Garin, he added: "To see these guys riding stages of over 400kms on impossible roads with such heavy bikes is something that moves me.

"I love the Tour de France. It's my life. Now I know how much part of history this race is."

See also:

24 Oct 02 | Cycling
29 Jul 02 | Cycling
28 Jul 02 | Cycling
26 Jun 02 | Cycling
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