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Page last updated at 09:16 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 10:16 UK

Vande Velde 'can stop Armstrong'

Christian Vande Velde
Vande Velde won the third stage of the Tour of Missouri on Wednesday

Lance Armstrong's former team-mate Jonathan Vaughters says Christian Vande Velde can stop the seven-time Tour de France winner's bid for another title.

Armstrong announced on Tuesday that he was coming out of retirement and planning to compete in the 2009 Tour.

But Vaughters, who is director of the Garmin-Chipotle team, said: "Christian will be a better rider than Lance."

Vande Velde, who came fifth in this year's Tour, leads the Tour of Missouri after winning Wednesday's time-trial.

He completed the hilly 28.6km third stage in 39 minutes, 51 seconds to lead the seven-stage race by 21 seconds from three-times world time trial winner Michael Rogers of Australia.

Briton Mark Cavendish, who took a 12-second lead into the third stage after winning the first two stages, finished 41st and fell to 36th overall - trailing by 3:49.

Armstrong's announcement that he is to come out of retirement has been greeted with a mixed reaction by the cycling community.

606: DEBATE

Alberto Contador, the 2007 Tour de France champion, said he would welcome the 36-year-old with "open arms" although Rabobank team leader Adri van Houwelingen doubted Armstrong's ability to "come back on the level he had before".

And Vaughters says Garmin-Chipotle's 32-year-old American Vande Velde will give Armstrong stiff competition for an eighth title.

"Christian can show the fact he was fifth in the Tour de France this year was not because of the absence of other people," said Vaughters referring to Contador and Levi Leipheimer's Astana team being absent from this year's race.

"It's because he's actually that good of an athlete. So to me, there's really only up side. We just have to up our game a little bit."

Armstrong will reveal more about his plans in New York on 24 September.

see also
Landis planning cycling comeback
11 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Contador would welcome Armstrong
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Armstrong looks to recapture past glories
10 Sep 08 |  Sport Homepage
Armstrong to make shock comeback
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Mixed reaction to Armstrong news
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Armstrong photos
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling
606 Debate: Armstrong's return
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Armstrong announces his comeback
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Lance Armstrong profile
24 Jul 05 |  Cycling
Life after Lance
28 Oct 05 |  Cycling
Armstrong seals seventh Tour win
24 Jul 05 |  Cycling


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