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Plagued by virus, Armstrong pulls out of Circuit Sarthe

Lance Armstrong has pulled out of the Circuit Sarthe ahead of Wednesday’s second stage because of illness, his RadioShack team said.

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Armstrong and four teammates have been affected by the virus. | AFP photo

The 38-year-old Texan is suffering from a viral intestinal infection which he picked up during last week’s Tour of Flanders and will return home to the United States when he’s well enough to travel.

Five of the eight Team RadioShack riders who competed in Flanders have been hit by the bug. In addition to Armstrong, Geoffroy Lequatre, Dmitriy Muravyev, Gregory Rast and Sébastien Rosseler have shown symptoms of illness. According to the team, manager Johan Bruyneel and a soigneur are affected.

“As far as Lance Armstrong is concerned, maybe we will have to change his program again,” director Alain Gallopin said. “That’s work for the coming days.

“Lance was really keen on performing well, especially in the time trial of Wednesday afternoon. He showed his growing condition in the Tour of Flanders, where he came in with the first group sprinting for the fifth place.”

“This is not the right moment, but it is never a good moment,” Gallopin said. “Though we have only four riders left in this race, we will try to win a stage. Tiago Machado and Yaroslav Popovych are in good shape. Let’s hope Popo will not get sick. He too was in Flanders last week.

It was Armstrong’s fourth participation in the French event following his appearances in 1999, 2001 and 2003.

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