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The first part of the Tour de France was “close to perfect” for five-time champion Lance Armstrong.
The American, seeking an unprecedented sixth title, finished second in the prologue and won Wednesday’s team time trial with his U.S. Postal Service-Berry Floor team.
And with the exception of the sixth stage, when he suffered cuts and bruises after coming off his bike, Armstrong managed to steer clear of the crashes that marked the first week.
“I can’t complain,” Armstrong said on Sunday before traveling by plane to Limoges in central France. “We’re in a good position. We don’t have a great amount of time on our rivals but we’ve got enough time
“We would have been better off without the new regulations of the team time trial, we would have been better off without my crash, even though there were no major consequences, and so I suppose I’m satisfied. It was close to perfect.”
Armstrong is sixth in the overall standings, nine minutes and 35 seconds behind leader Thomas Voeckler (Brioches la Boulangere) after eight stages.
The Tour now transfers from a cold and wet Brittany to what riders hope will be the warmer climate of Massif Central. And Armstrong would like a little less company at the finish line, too.
“There are harder stages to come, and hopefully they’ll be more selective so that we don’t have 200 guys coming to the finish together,” he said.
“We’re going to have a hard day on the stage to Saint Flour (on Wednesday). I think it’s the longest day of the Tour. We’ll try and stay out of trouble, but the Tour starts after the transfer.”
Armstrong said he would train for at least two hours on Monday’s rest day, the first of the Tour.
“You have to train fairly hard because your body is used to riding hard every day at certain intensity levels,” he said. “You can’t take a complete rest day off the bike, that’d be a disaster, you can’t even go out for one hour easy. I think you have to ride in the medium zone a little bit and keep the body running.”