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Tour de France News for June 2, 2004

Edited by John Stevenson

Indurain: Armstrong faces tough challenge

For five time Tour winner Miguel Indurain, the 2004 Tour de France will be Lance Armstrong's toughest one yet to win. "With Armstrong, all the others are there with sharp teeth because last year they saw failure and this year they will look this year to see if he fails or not," he was quoted by AS as saying. "I believe that he is good now, working hard, but in the Tour everything can leave you. In 21 days, like what happened to me, if you have a bad day then the whole Tour is bad."

Indurain judged Armstrong to be "meeting his objectives now, then there's Ullrich, who always is a little bit off, and the Germans. It also remains to be seen how Beloki is after his serious injury, Sevilla and Heras, who will be the leader of Liberty, and there are others who are always there like Mancebo."

On the recent rise of Damiano Cunego, Indurain was very impressed. "He is very good, defends himself well in the sprints and in the mountains, the only thing that's a little bit lacking is the time trial...I believe he has a very encouraging future, above all for Italy which has passed a very bad season. To have a new idol is very good for the tifosi."

Riis: Ullrich needs to work harder

Voigt: Armstrong will win the Tour

Bjarne Riis, CSC team manager and former teammate of Jan Ullrich, has said that Ullrich still has a lot of work to do if he is to get into the right condition to win the Tour de France. Speaking to German newsagency DPA, Riis said, "Of course Jan surprised me also with his strong time trial performance in Karlsruhe, but by the Tour, he has to lose another five kilos."

CSC's Jens Voigt commented that "Ullrich's second name should be 'Phoenix' - because he always comes back again," but was firm in his opinion that "Lance Armstrong will win the Tour...Lance has solved his marriage problems; he has not had to cope with a heavy fall like in the previous year in the Dauphiné; and he is becoming as strong and motivated like never before."

Canadian Tour prologue "can't be done"

The proposed 2008 Tour de France prologue in Quebec, Canada is looking very unlikely, according to a report in Canadian newspaper La Presse.

Jean-François Pescheux, competition director of the Société du Tour de France, told the paper that the idea was tempting but "difficult to realize".

"The inherent logistical constraints of such a project are practically impossible to resolve," said M. Pescheux, "In a 24-hour period you can't arrange two seven-hour flights with a peloton of 200 racers.

"It's as if you asked the Formula One organisers to run trials in Canada then run the race in Europe. They wouldn't do it. The idea was studied, the potential was there, everything was there, but it just can't be done."

M. Pescheux also mentioned recent comments by Lance Armstrong that it took him three weeks to fully recover from the jet lag after racing in the US. "If that's true for him, it's true for all racers," he said.


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