Armstrong Vs the Tour ?
– Reported by Gazzetta dello Sport –
The American doesn’t seem to have any rivals between himself and a fourth Tour de France, but the doping inquiry in France is still an annoyance
Lance Armstrong has begun to count the days that separates him from the Tour, his exclusive hunting grounds for the past three seasons and, like never before, an operation in which success will be easy. Between himself and a fourth consecutive Tour there is no Jan Ullrich or even Marco Pantani. The first, the only rival that is more or less a credible threat to the victory; the second, a pesky mesquito that has alwaysexcited this race. The first is the victim of tendonitis that has for months afflicted his right knee and a head that never seems to be concentrated on
the bicycle. Il Pirata has been falling for the past three years in the athletic and psychological sense, the fruits of a continuing judiciary commission in which he was implegated in ’99.
The Texan has such a large opportunity to another notch to his holster and arrive to a solo victory like those of Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, and Indurain. He will need to pay attention to Santiago Botero, Joseba Beloki,
Oscar Sevilla, Andrei Kivilev, Francesco Casagrande, and possibly his ex-teammates Livingstone and Hamilton. None of them, in theory, provide a convincing enough argument to worry Armstrong. And so, in this moment, it isn’t likely that anything will prevent the American from adding another triumph to his already impressive three tours. After the Amstel Gold Race,
Armstrong rested for a bit. He was then seen again at the Midi Libre at the end of May, which he won, and is right now competing in the Dauphine Libere, where he will be facing most of his main rivals for the Tour. “Each year that passes, I feel stronger: I’ve worked a lot on my recuperation abilities, because the Tour is above all difficult in this sense. The absence of Ullrich? I’m sorry for it, also for Simoni: the race, and I myself, need to have many favorites”
It’s a well attended testing ground, the Dauphine Libere, considering the climbs that have been inserted in the course: the Col de Saises, the Aravis, the Colombiere and, above all, the Col de Joux Plain on which, at the Tour 2000, the captain of the US Postal squad was put in a small crisis three years ago, arriving 2’01” back on the winner Virenque and 37″ down on Ullrich. But it’s not only the climbs that are irritating Lance: “It’s beyond me – he made it known in a letter sent after an article appeared in Le Monde entitled “The US Postal Affari” – that in France the inquiry into
our use of doping products is still open after two years. I repeat today what I said then: the investigators will find nothing because there is nothing to find. I’ve sent a letter to the magistrates saying that I am available to meet them at anytime that they would like me too, but I have not received a response. But this inquiry is without a foundation and I don’t intend to let it bother me”.