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Page last updated at 08:07 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Armstrong pleased with his form

Lance Armstrong with Levi Leipheimer (left)
Leipheimer (right) celebrates a third straight Tour of California win

Lance Armstrong said he had a "good time" at the Tour of California and was happy with his performance during the race which was won by Levi Leipheimer.

Armstrong finished seventh overall, one minute and 46 seconds behind his Astana team-mate Leipheimer.

The seven-time Tour de France winner said: "Nobody came in here with any other expectation than riding for Levi.

"I think overall we're happy with where we are. If you compare 22 Feb to any other year, we're well ahead of that."

Leipheimer finished ninth in Sunday's final stage to claim his third straight Tour of California win in an overall time of 31 hours 28.21 seconds.

Fellow American David Zabriskie of Garmin-Slipstream came second, while Australian Michael Rogers of Team Columbia-High Road was third.

Britain's Mark Cavendish finished in the green sprinters' jersey after winning two stages.

Armstrong made his competitive comeback at last month's Tour Down Under after three years in retirement and admitted he had some work to do on his conditioning.

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"Obviously to win the Tour de France you have to be as strong as possible and as light as possible," he said.

"I don't necessarily need to get that much stronger but I have to get lighter. Three-and-a-half years away of not watching every gram of food you put in your body and the amount of wine you consume takes its toll, so you've got to get back into it."

Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel said Armstrong needed time to return to the kind of level needed to be competitive at this summer's Tour de France.

"It would not be very smart to accelerate that process. We're not in a hurry. He's fit. With a lot of good races and a lot of good training, I think it's possible to be back at a very high level," said Bruyneel.

"Can he compare to what he once was? That we don't know.

"It looks pretty good. After two stage races, it's very positive - better than I expected.

"I don't think we can know how far he can get in the Tour until the end of the Giro d'Italia. We don't know how he's going to recover. We don't know how he's going to be in the hills. Hopefully he can keep that progress.

"If there is somebody stronger, he is going to be a team-mate like he was here."

see also
Cavendish captures green jersey
23 Feb 09 |  Cycling
Leipheimer keeps California lead
22 Feb 09 |  Cycling
Leipheimer seals time-trial win
21 Feb 09 |  Cycling
California double for Cavendish
20 Feb 09 |  Cycling
Cavendish wins California stage
19 Feb 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong time-trial bike found
19 Feb 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong moves up despite fall
17 Feb 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong upbeat after comeback
25 Jan 09 |  Cycling


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