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By VeloNews Interactive wire services, Copyright AFP 2000
According to a tentative schedule posted on his Web site, two-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will not compete in any French races prior to the start of the Tour on July 7.
The 29-year-old, whose U.S. Postal team is at the center of a French judicial investigation into drug allegations, will steer clear of races in France, racing primarily in Spain and then capping his preparations with the Tour of Switzerland, June 19-28.
Last season Armstrong participated in the prestigious Paris-Nice and Dauphiné Libéré in France as part of his build-up to his second straight Tour victory. But neither race featured on Armstrong’s schedule for this season.
Armstrong’s schedule comes amid speculation he may swap his traditional European base of Nice in the south of France for Alicante in Spain where his team manager Johan Bruyneel lives along with several of the medical team.
The American cyclist has been bitterly critical of the French investigation into the U.S. Postal team. Late last year he even threatened to withdraw from this year’s Tour de France in protest, although his team later emphasized its intention to defend the yellow jersey in July.
Armstrong’s 2001 campaign will begin in Spain with the Tour of Murcia and Catalan Week in March. He will return to the States for the Ride for the Roses weekend in Austin, Texas, April 6-8, followed by the Tour of Aragon (April 18-22), Bicicleta Vasca (May 30-June3) and the Tour of Switzerland (June 19-28).