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Last Updated: Friday, 15 July, 2005, 05:05 GMT 06:05 UK
McEwen hails unbeatable Armstrong
Robbie McEwen (left) with Lance Armstrong
McEwen has been impressed by Armstrong's efforts
Robbie McEwen believes Lance Armstrong is cruising to a seventh Tour de France win and will not even have to go into top gear to achieve it.

Armstrong moved into the lead after Wednesday's stage but McEwen believes he has done it without any real effort.

McEwen told BBC Sport: "I spoke to him afterwards and said 'you're playing with them aren't you?'

"And he gave me a wry grin and said he'd had to say to the cameras he was suffering before cycling off."

Armstrong, bidding for a seventh Tour de France win in what is his final race before retiring, has been in blistering form in the mountains.

On Wednesday, his Discovery Channel team set a frenetic pace from Grenoble to Courchevel, dropping almost all his main rivals in the process.

When it gets steeper, he'll put the hammer down and smash everyone
Robbie McEwen
The Texan was eventually beaten to the line by Spaniard Alejandro Valverde but could have done much more, according to McEwen.

The Australian said: "Other riders - whether they see him close-up or in the highlights later on television - can see the small signs.

"He was looking around a lot and never really forced the pace. He got Yaroslav Popovych to increase the speed and then he went.

"But after that he let the others set the pace and didn't do too much. In actual fact, I don't think he'll have to do too much."

McEwen, who heads up the Davitamon-Lotto team, believes Armstrong's rivals have effectively conceded defeat.

"They're no idiots - they can see how easily he's riding," said the 33-year-old sprinter. "Most of them know he'll go along with whoever attacks and mark everyone.

"And, when it gets steeper, he'll put the hammer down and smash everyone."



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