June 06, 2004
Armstrong headlines Dauphiné Libéré
Today is the prologue for the Dauphiné Libéré (in French), the last major tuneup for Lance Armstrong and many of his Tour de France rivals. Armstrong won here the last two years.
Also on hand will be Tyler Freaking Hamilton, Levi Leipheimer, Iban Mayo, Ivan Basso, and Christophe Moreau, the last man not from Texas to win here.
The U.S. Postal leader seems to be vacillating on his Dauphine ambitions. After the Tour of Languedoc-Roussillon, the Texan insisted he would ride the Dauphine, "Without ambition," implying the race would be just another step in his progression toward the Tour de France.
On the eve of the race, however, word has filtered from his team that Armstrong will ride to win.
French news agency AFP reported that U.S. Postal team boss Johan Bruyneel has been in a cram session with Lance Armstrong, meticulously studying the topography of Sunday's prologue, a 5.4km test that includes a leg-breaking kilometre-long climb with sections pitched at nine percent.
Today's prologue will give us a look at Armstrong's time trial strategy and conditioning: Recent stories suggest Armstrong has ditched his latest time-trial bike, which had a very narrow bottom bracket, to go back to a more conventional frame.
Another key stage is the mountain time trial on Thursday, which runs 21.6 kilometers up Mont Ventoux, and should provide some evidence of who is in shape to do well in the 15-kilometer TT stage on L'Alpe d'Huez at the Tour this year.
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