By Andrew Hood
Lance Armstrong enjoyed a relatively quiet rest day Monday, going on a morning ride and otherwise relaxing around the team hotel on the outskirts of Limoges. Tuesday opens three potentially explosive days in the Massif Central and Armstrong said he’s read for the fireworks to begin.
Belgian television caught up with Armstrong as he returned from his training ride. VeloNews listened in:
Question: You seem very relaxed after the difficult first week?
Lance Armstrong: “More relaxed because it’s over, not because I’m more relaxed in general, just glad it’s over, I’m glad we didn’t have any major problems. Yesterday was a bit stressful with the long stage, the long transfer, but so far, so good.”
Q: Has the Tour just begun?
LA: “The first week is finally over and we can worry about the hard stages now.”
Q: The harder stages are coming now, is the day after La Mongie is harder?
LA: “It’s definitely harder than La Mongie. That stage is not so difficult, especially compared to the day after.”
Q: Tyler Hamilton, your fellow American, just a few seconds behind, and Jan Ullrich, who do you fear the most?
LA: “I still fear Ullrich the most. He’s the one with the most experience and the most desire to succeed this year. I don’t know why, but to me he’s the biggest threat and the one to watch the closest. I’m glad we have a bit of a cushion on both of those guys. I would not want to be in the reverse position and have to make up a minute on Ullrich. We have a bit of a cushion and we can be more conservative in the mountains and we’ll see what happens. We’ll still attack if we have to attack.”
Q: The team has ridden perfect.
LA: “The team is great, better than ever. Chechu, Jose is great, George is like always. It’s a similar team to last year, almost the same guys – Heras is not there. Roberto is a great rider, but to be honest, Azevedo fits in the team much better. I think his personality and mentality is a better match for this team than Roberto. Roberto is probably destined to be a leader and it’s good to be where he is. Azevedo is a really cool guy.”
Q: What are the possibilities of Tyler?
LA: “He has a lot of possibilities. He can win the Tour. He can be on the podium, he can win stages. He’s a complete rider, he can time trial, he can climb. He’s a friend, at some point you have to be professionals, you have to race the bike race and put friendships aside. He’s a damn good biker and as we saw last year he’s a tough bike rider, so if he has problems he doesn’t give up.”