June 30, 2004
Armstrong: L.A. Confidential 'just another spur'
Lance Armstrong says his most recent performance tests "are very, very good" going into his attempt at a sixth consecutive Tour de France victory.
"You have to recognise that the crucial days of the race are still three weeks away, so it’s important to be ready, but not at the limit," the 32-year-old affirmed. "It’s better to be at 90 per cent on the eve of the race, as opposed to 101 per cent. Nevertheless, the results from last few performance tests are very, very good."
In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian | rough English translation (and I mean rough, he's "Armstrong Nozzles" throughout)), Armstrong rates his opponents: Ullrich 1st, Hamilton 2nd, Mayo 3rd. Armstrong has always maintained that Ullrich is the biggest threat, but he places Hamilton over Mayo because of his stronger time-trialing.
Armstrong throws a few bones to the tifosi, the rabid Italian cycling fans, giving props to Italian phenom Damiano Cunego, and suggesting he thinks Gilberto Simoni will be more involved in this year's Tour.
Armstrong also said more about L.A. Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong than I think he had before:
"For me it’s just another spur," Armstrong said. "Walsh and Ballester are journalists that the press room knows well, and for whom I don’t think it has much respect."
Armstrong then alleged: "Ballester had to leave L’Equipe due to unethical behaviour. He seems a desperate kind of guy… He and Walsh worked on this book for three to five years, perhaps even longer. They spoke to hundreds, maybe thousands of people and in the end found two people who told a few nice little stories – all of which were false – and declined to print what the other 99 per cent of the people told them. Is that right or just?"
Armstrong then vowed to pursue his legal action against the pair "until the bitter end, until justice is done".
"I hope they are ready to defend themselves," Armstrong signed off.
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