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Armstrong downplays Tour chances

Winning Tour not a priority - Armstrong

Lance Armstrong says winning an eighth Tour will not be a priority when he returns to professional cycling.

Having retired in 2005, the 37-year-old will make a return with the Astana team in January's Tour Down Under, before the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France.

"If the Tour was today I don't have the power to win, but it's months away.

"I have time to prepare. If I'm 18th or third, it's fine," he said, adding that he was unlikely to be racing for more than two years.

Armstrong, who will be two months short of turning 38 when the 2009 Tour begins, said: "It could be more than one year, it could be just one year. I don't see it being for more than two because age is a factor."

The Texan is at Astana's pre-season training camp and despite tensions earlier in the year with 2007 Tour winner Alberto Contador threatening to leave if he was not guaranteed team leadership, Armstrong said there would be no problems.

"There are some unwritten laws in cycling that say the other riders support the better rider," he said.

"Alberto is the strongest cyclist in the world. There is a chance I'm the third strongest rider in the team.

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"I'm going to be fair and respect the rules of cycling and respect (team boss) Johan Bryneel's guidance and orders. If that means supporting the other guys I'll do it."

Armstrong, who overcame testicular cancer before his seven Tour victories, made the surprise announcement of a Tour return in September.

He will make his first comeback race in the Tour Down Under in Australia before racing in California and then on to the Giro and the Tour.

On his motivations for returning, Armstrong added: "I am content with seven Tours. If there's an eighth or ninth as a possibility you're not going to say 'no'.

"There are two reasons why I returned. I have a passion for racing and training, and also promoting my foundation (the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which is a charity dedicated to combating cancer).

He added that he had no regrets about his decision to return.

"I feel OK for an old guy," he said. "My lower back hurts but it all feels surprisingly good. I almost feel stronger than when I was at 27.

"There are annoying aspects in this sport but when I ride up the hill I ride like a guy who wants to be here and I expect that to last until the end of the season."

see also
Armstrong opts to ride 2009 Tour
01 Dec 08 |  Cycling
Armstrong firms up 2009 schedule
05 Nov 08 |  Cycling
Armstrong to return with Astana
24 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Mixed reaction to Armstrong news
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Armstrong to make shock comeback
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling


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