By Agence France Presse
Lance Armstrong has played down his chances of winning an eighth Tour de France title despite lining up at the July 3-25 race with a quality-packed RadioShack team.
Having returned to the sport last year after a three-year ‘retirement,’ Armstrong could only finish third in Paris behind Luxemburger Andy Schleck and Spanish champion Alberto Contador of Astana.
Armstrong will line up at this year’s race in a team which includes former Tour runner-up Andreas Kloden of Germany, and American Levi Leipheimer among other experienced stage race campaigners.
And the American, dominated by Contador in both the mountains and time trials of last year’s race, said their support could play a deciding role as he bids to oust race favorite Contador from the top step of the podium.
Asked about his, Leipheimer or Kloden’s chances, Armstrong said: “I don’t think either of us is going in as favorite for the Tour but between the three of us you never know what can happen.
“We have a strong team,” he added.
“It will be very hard with my age, the explosiveness of the other guys and my own struggle with the time trials the last few years.
“We’ll have to be smart, lucky and play the team card but there’s a handful of guys who can win.”
Armstrong, who was speaking at the Tour of Switzerland where he was finetuning his preparations for the Tour, got a chance to test his time trial skills in Sunday’s final stage, where he finished 11th, 1:09 behind stage winner Tony Martin.
Before the TT, the 38-year-old was coy, confirming that his skills in the race against the clock are not what they used to be.
“The the last few years my time trials have been disappointing,” he said.
“That’s one fortunate thing (in the 2010 Tour): there’s only one time trial.”