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As Lance Armstrong pulled on his 61st Tour de France yellow jersey in Villard-de-Lans on Tuesday, he was already thinking ahead to Wednesday’s time trial up L’Alpe d’Huez.
After winning the 15th stage and toppling young Frenchman Thomas Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangere), not many would bet against the five-time Tour champion on one of the Tour’s classic climbs. Especially when he’s looking forward to riding it in the maillot jaune.
“I’m excited to do it, to be on the Alpe,” said Armstrong, who won in the alpine resort in 2001. “There is something exciting about riding L’Alpe d’Huez in the yellow jersey.”
Armstrong will face huge crowds on the 21 turns to the top. French police said thousands of spectators had already parked their camper vans or pitched tents, and the road was closed off at midday on Tuesday.
He will also face Italian Ivan Basso (CSC), who is second overall at one minute, 25 seconds, and has become the American’s main serious rival for a sixth consecutive victory in the Tour.
“I expect him to be strong, I think he’ll be tough to beat,” he said. “I think he’s well prepared. He has trained in L’Alpe d’Huez before. I have the good fortune of starting behind him, which is a good advantage.”