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Last Updated: Friday, 1 July, 2005, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
McGee bids to upstage Armstrong
By Matt Majendie
BBC Sport in Challans

Bradley McGee
Bradley McGee has pledged to upstage Lance Armstrong and win the first stage of the Tour de France on Saturday.

McGee, who led in 2003 after winning the opening stage, and Armstrong are among the favourites for the 19km time trial which starts at 1440 BST.

"With my track experience, the route plays into my hands better than anyone's," McGee told BBC Sport.

"I'll be backing myself over anyone, Armstrong included, to be on top come the close on Saturday."

The opening stage of the Tour is usually a five or six kilometre event, which results in very small gaps in the standings between the riders.

Former Olympic champion McGee added: "The change to a 19km stage is interesting because it's not the usual, shorter Tour opener, which in the past has played into the hands of the sprinters with their brute strength over such a short burst.

"Likewise it's not the sort of length of stage in which the likes of Armstrong and Jan Ullrich pull out the big times on everyone else.

"It's an in-between stage which is perfect for me. I can't wait."

McGee believes his main opposition will come from Armstrong, Ullrich, his countryman Michael Rogers and Santiago Botero, "although there are others who can spring a surprise".

But despite talking up his chances, he insisted the stage was boring.

"Ok you go over a bridge, but then it's just straight. There's no dangerous corners or risk-taking, which I like," he said. "But I think my team boss prefers it that way. It's less stressful for him to watch."

Armstrong, meanwhile, described the time trial as "strange".

And the American, who this year is bidding for a seventh Tour win, added: "Although it's only 19km long, it's straight into a headwind so it feels more like 25-30km in terms of distance.

"It's fairly basic but, sure, we'll be going for it to put a marker down."




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