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Page last updated at 21:56 GMT, Sunday, 31 May 2009 22:56 UK

Armstrong confident ahead of Tour

Lance Armstrong
Armstrong is a seven time winner of the Tour de France

Seven-time champion Lance Armstrong said he was in good shape ahead of his Tour de France comeback.

The 37-year-old, who returned to racing this year after nearly four years in retirement, finished a creditable 12th overall in the Giro d'Italia on Sunday.

"In the second half of the race I showed that I was certainly getting better," said the American.

"It's taking a lot of work up to this point but we might ride strong and be in the front in July."

Armstrong rewrote the record books in 2005 when he became the first rider to win seven Le Tour titles - all in succession.

He retired after his final victory, only to return to racing at the beginning of 2009 to promote his Livestrong cancer charity.

However, his team's participation in July's cycling classic remains in doubt.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) set Sunday as a deadline for Kazakhstan-based team Astana to meet its financial requirements after the riders complained their salaries were not being paid.


The UCI has threatened to withdraw its Pro-Tour licence.

"The financial woes that left salaries unpaid are not completely resolved yet," team manager Johan Bruyneel said.

"I hope that the team sponsors will meet the deadline for the bank guarantee and the payments.

"Moreover the UCI now wants more guarantees about the team for the rest of the year."

Armstrong, who is considering buying the team, was joined by all but one of his team-mates in blanking out the sponsors' names on their shirts from the seventh stage of the Giro in protest at the money trouble.

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see also
Armstrong suffers heavy Giro fall
29 May 09 |  Cycling
Menchov wins Giro despite crash
31 May 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong team given UCI deadline
11 May 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong expects Giro stage win
05 May 09 |  Cycling
Armstrong to make shock comeback
10 Sep 08 |  Cycling

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