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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 December, 2003, 21:20 GMT
Armstrong sets double goal
Lance Armstrong
Armstrong believes he can recover his best form in 2004
Cycling legend Lance Armstrong has set himself twin ambitions next year - to win a record sixth Tour de France and an Olympic gold medal.

Armstrong said he was motivated by his unconvincing performance in winning a fifth consecutive Tour last season.

"I feel I have a point to prove. I was just not happy with my performance in 2003," the American said.

About the Olympics, he added: "I want gold, specifically in the time-trial. If they select me, of course."

Armstrong would stand alone in cycling history if he won a sixth Tour, surpassing five-time winners Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil.

And he has indicated he may give himself two more attempts to achieve the feat.

"I will probably run two more Tours in 2004 and 2005," he said on Wednesday.

I can't imagine myself being retired in eight months
Lance Armstrong
"The legends, like Merckx and Indurain wanted to win six. It's not like they suddenly stopped at five.

"They all tried and I intend to do the same. I'm excited about it and I'd be very upset if I lost."

He said the Tour would be a bigger priority than the Olympics in Athens, despite his desire to make up for his disappointment in only taking time trial bronze in Sydney in 2000.

"The Tour de France is the biggest, the best and the grandest bike race in the world and so continues to be my one and only objective.

"Things may change a little bit for the Olympic Games next year but the Tour de France is everything to me."

The Texan acknowledged that at 32 he is "exiting" his peak, while arch-rival Jan Ullrich, who pushed him all the way in 2003, is arguably at the height of his powers at 29.

"Jan's got a good chance of winning because he's got a great team, he has got the motivation again and at 30 is entering best years of his career," Armstrong said.

"Some people are saying I'm leaving my best years and so he'll be tough to beat. It will be a close race next year, perhaps I think we should start calling him the favourite."

And Armstrong played down the significance of his key supporting climber Roberto Heras quitting the team.

"We've lost riders before. It's a free-agent market, these things happen and there are no hard feelings. Besides, I'm perfectly happy with the team I have," Armstrong said.

Armstrong said he would leave a decision on retirement until after the Tour.

"I can't imagine myself as being a retired athlete in eight months time but there are several factors that will decide my future," he said.

"First of all I have to decide if I'm still strong enough to compete because I don't want to ride until I'm old and weak and then it also depends if my (US Postal) team continues."




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