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Page last updated at 19:48 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 20:48 UK

Armstrong plays down Giro chances

Lance Armstrong
Armstrong finished second in Mexico's Tour of Gila

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has ruled himself out of the running to win the Giro d'Italia.

"I feel better than I expected to feel but I know I don't have the condition to win," said Armstrong, ahead of the start of Saturday's race.

"I could very well be past that point now and be putting myself up for a lot of suffering."

The 100th edition of the race contains nine Britons, including Mark Cavendish, David Millar and Bradley Wiggins.

All three could challenge in the opening stages with their Garmin and Columbia teams tipped to do well.

606: DEBATE
Austrian_Jez

Armstrong, having just recovered from a broken collarbone, insisted he would be happy to play a supporting role to team-mate Astana leader Levi Leipheimer.

"It's been a while since we were at a race of this magnitude. Certainly it's very exciting for me," said the 37-year-old Armstrong.

"We have a rider who can be a factor in the race - top five or top three. Levi is a complete rider. He can climb and time trial."

But Armstrong's comments that "there are other ways to find the rush in life" will have some doubting whether he still has the hunger for a successful comeback.

The tour begins with a team time-trial in Venice before a likely sprint finish in Trieste the following day.

On day four the riders ascend into the Dolomites with eight mountain finishes in store before the destination of the pink jersey is finally decided in a time-trial in the shadow of Rome's Colosseum on the 31st May.

Britain's challenge is likely to fade as the altitude increases and Cavendish may choose to drop out before the finish to concentrate on his preparation for the Tour de France.

But after his victory in March's Milan-San Remo Classic, the 23-year-old may be tempted to stay the course.

"He's in pretty good condition. I saw him two days ago, he's riding pretty good and he's going to be up for it," said Max Sciandri, manager of British Cycling's academy in Italy.

"He's climbing much better in the last year and he's got a team around him that really believe in him."

Ivan Basso, Gilberto Simoni, Danilo Di Luca, Damiano Cunego and Marzio Bruseghin form a strong Italian challenge on home soil while defending Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre rides for Cervelo.

But world road champion Alessandro Ballan will be missing after struggling to shake off a virus.



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see also
Centennial Giro up for grabs
07 May 09 |  Cycling
Brits to watch in the Giro
07 May 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong ponders Astana takeover
07 May 09 |  Cycling
Ballan ruled out of Giro d'Italia
30 Apr 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong vows to make Giro start
17 Apr 09 |  Cycling
Organisers unveil 2009 Giro route
15 Dec 08 |  Cycling
Contador opts to miss 2009 Giro
28 Oct 08 |  Cycling
Contador claims historic Giro win
01 Jun 08 |  Cycling


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Globe and Mail Columbia High Road claim Giro time Trial - 27 mins ago
Mail Online UK Cavendish makes history by becoming first Brit to wear pink jersey in Italy - 28 mins ago
Miami Herald Armstrong's Astana squad 3rd in Giro opener - 32 mins ago
CNN Cavendish leads Giro after team triumph - 56 mins ago
Sporting Life PINK JERSEY BECKONS FOR BRITS - 41 hrs ago


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