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Monday, 3 February, 2003, 09:02 GMT
Armstrong eyes Tour glory
Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France's yellow leader's jersey
Lance Armstrong is targeting the Tour de France
The cycling season gets underway this week but all eyes are already turning to the 100th Tour de France in July.

Lance Armstrong is likely to be a strong favourite for the race as he chases his fifth win in a row.

There is plenty of action before then, beginning with the Grand Prix d'Ouverture on Tuesday.

The racing continues with the four-day Etoile de Besseges, which starts on Wednesday.

Single minded

Armstrong's focus is as clear as ever - the Tour is the only thing that matters to him.

"I am thinking only about winning that race (the Tour)," Armstrong said in a recent interview with Italian sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Ever since I have been on a bike I have been riding only for success in the Tour."

Armstrong, who rides for the all-conquering US Postal team, is also expected take part in his three favourite one-day races in April.

The American has roughly the same team as last year this season and his most serious opposition should come once more from 1997 winner Jan Ullrich.

Six-month ban

Ullrich, who has twice finished second behind Armstrong in the Tour de France, missed last year's race with a knee injury and was then given a six-month ban for taking amphetamines in a nightclub.

The 29-year-old German does not have a lot more time to win the Tour again and his recent move from Team Telekom to Team Coast could benefit him.

The Telekom team has made up for Ullrich's departure by hiring two of the sport's most promising riders.

They have signed last year's Giro d'Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli and Colombian Santiago Botero, who is the time trial world champion.

While France is still looking for the man to replace Laurent Jalabert, who retired last season, the main change in 2003 could be the decline of Italian cycling.

Italian Marco Pantani, the 1998 Tour winner, has yet to find a team while Domina Vacanze, despite hiring world champion Mario Cipollini, have struggled with their budget.

 RESULTS
 TOUR DE FRANCE
 MORE CYCLING

 SPECIAL EVENTS
 MANCHESTER 2002

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