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Tour de France News for May 16, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry & Jeff Jones

Armstrong on the Alpe

Five-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is back in Europe and already down to serious business in preparation for his bid for a sixth Tour win in July. Armstrong returned Monday from an extended stay in the United States, highlighted by an overall victory at the Tour de Georgia. Not one to waste time, the American traveled to France Wednesday for an extended reconnaissance of the famed Alpe d'Huez. The fabled climb will be the scene of a dramatic uphill time trial in this year's Tour, a stage Armstrong expects to be of utmost importance.

"The Alpe d'Huez occupies a lot of my thoughts," Armstrong told l'Equipe earlier this spring. "It's a physical, technical, and tactical challenge, and I don't want to neglect anything. I'm going when the weather is good since it's a mountain that I know well, but not perfectly."

Armstrong tackled the climb several times Wednesday and Thursday and was joined by several US Postal Service teammates for the weekend, including José Azevedo, Manuel Beltran, and José Luis Rubiera. Armstrong and US Postal will line up at the Tour du Languedoc-Roussillon next week to begin the final phase of preparation for the Tour, which will also include the Dauphiné Libéré in June.

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