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Armstrong Firmly Focused on Record Sixth Tour Win(20 posts)

Armstrong Firmly Focused on Record Sixth Tour Winkevinacohn
Dec 12, 2003 7:30 AM
By Stephen Farrand

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Lance Armstrong says his sole objective next year is to win the Tour de France for a record sixth time.

"I'm more motivated to win a sixth Tour de France than I think I was to win five," the American U.S. Postal rider told a news conference on Friday.

Armstrong joined cycling's most select club in July when he claimed his fifth victory in the sport's biggest race, matching the feat of Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

"The Tour de France is the only objective we have. Sometimes that's a controversial issue but the Tour de France is the biggest, the best and the grandest bike race in the world and so continues to be my one and only objective.

"Things may change a little bit for the Olympic Games next year but the Tour de France is everything to me."

Armstrong, 32, said he would leave a decision on retiring until after next year's Tour.

"I can't imagine myself as being a retired athlete in eight months time but there are several factors that will decide my future," he said.

"First of all I have to decide if I'm still strong enough to compete because I don't want to ride until I'm old and weak and then it also depends if my team continues. The sponsorship contract is up in 2004 and I don't plan on leaving my directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel."

Armstrong fought hard to beat Jan Ullrich in this year's Tour and said the German rider and his T-mobile team would be his biggest rivals for 2004.

"Jan's got a good chance of winning because he's got a great team, he has got the motivation again and at 30 is entering best years of his career.

"Some people are saying I'm leaving my best years and so he'll be tough to beat. It will be a close race next year, perhaps I think we should start calling him the favorite."

Since winning his fifth Tour, Armstrong has separated from his wife Kristen. As a consequence he will not ride in any of the one-day World Cup races in April and plans to spend more time at home in Austin, Texas with his three children.

"I typically leave the States in February and return in September but now I can't stay away for so long I'm going to do two month blocks racing and training in Europe and then go back," he said.

"I'd rather lose the Tour de France rather than spend six or seven months away from my kids."
more power to himcyclopathic
Dec 12, 2003 7:54 AM
but I am skeptical he'll win.
Here's my take...kevinacohn
Dec 12, 2003 8:01 AM
Winning six in a row is really, really hard. Never been done before. So why do I think he can do it? Simply put, if they couldn't find a way to beat him in 2003, when he crashed, almost crashed, almost lost his second nut, etc., how the hell will they do it now when he's more determined than ever?
fine, here is mine...funknuggets
Dec 12, 2003 8:36 AM
Can it be harder than winning the 5th? Things get funny when you continually win and take things for granted. When your margin of victory is relatively comfortable, Lance did not come in prepared...especially for the heat. There were a number of factors that come into play, but being 32 should not be the issue.

The issue is whether he lets the personal/psychological issues get in his way. He has always stated that Ullrich is the better rider, or has the more core talent... and that MAY be the case, but actually... it may be Lance just trying to take the consistent bullseye off of him. It is easier to be the pursuer than it is the leader.

Im not a Lanceophyte, but I certainly acknowledge his insane ability and uncanny desire. Heck maybe he should take a backseat and let TMobile pull him around like Ullrich and Beloki did Postal this year. Would be fun to let him let Ullrich lead the race for the majority and let TMobile protect... (cause we all know Hamilton will undoubtedly get hurt again somehow...). Might be fun for Lance to change tactics and let it come to the final Mtn TTs...

Honestly, I think it would be good for Lance to feign blowing up at a few late spring classics to turn the media from him, but working for a sixth, I somehow doubt he will be able to do that. But we all can be fans, detractors, or whatever, that is what makes this sport fun.

Personally, Im cheering for the guy, but will it ever make him the best cyclist ever...not by a longshot.

Chris
Good strategyOldEdScott
Dec 12, 2003 9:18 AM
' ... let T-Mobile pull him around.'

Ullrich was the 10th Postie in last year's Tour, and it worked out just fine for him.

Strategic adaptation to the 'New Armstrong' we saw last year (older, less force majeur) might be for Postal to NOT dominate and control the race as in previous years. I think T-Mobile can take care of that chore just fine. Then Lance can attack at a place and time of his choosing.
Good strategy? if you liked '01, surecyclopathic
Dec 12, 2003 10:36 AM
'04 is likely to be dominated by 2 teams. Hopefully climbers like Beloki/Heras can stage something to make it more interesting.
Because...Dwayne Barry
Dec 12, 2003 10:08 AM
he'll be a year older and he's at that age where Grand Tour GC guys start to lose it. It wasn't just the tour last year either, he wasn't as strong in the build up races either.
And "they" is really only Ullrich, and he had his bad days in last year's tour as well.

I'd give even odds on Ullrich or Armstrong to win it, there's probably 8 other long-shots who at least have a chance, albeit a slim one.
Here's my take...waynebo
Dec 12, 2003 2:18 PM
Forever an optimist--Armstrong is going down!
Spin?Fez
Dec 12, 2003 8:25 AM
Sounds like the heat is being turned up and Lance has some spin of his own:

"I think we should start calling him (Jan) the favorite."

"I'd rather lose the Tour de France rather than spend six or seven months away from my kids."

Separation or not, Lance would like nothing more than to win a 6th Tour. He is just as dedicated as before, even if he has to do a few things differently.

I hope Jan is just as dedicated. I think he would like nothing more than to deny Lance a 6th win. After all, Jan has got to be pretty tired of finishing behind Lance since 1999.
Every time I watch the 2001 TdF...kevinacohn
Dec 12, 2003 8:28 AM
...which is something I do often, I can't help but feel sorry for Ullrich. I mean, Armstrong just eats him alive on every climb.
Every time I watch the 2001 TdF...MountainPro
Dec 12, 2003 8:44 AM
after cheating on the 2003 tdf, and the new strength in ullrich and millar winning the world time trial championships this year, i think armstrongs days are numbered for the tdf
He'll winMariowannabe
Dec 12, 2003 8:49 AM
I think he'll as focused as ever, and all the wiser. Last year must have been really tough. I can identify with Lance - going through a separation can zap the strength out of you. I followed the tour for almost a week in France and its was un-godly hot. I was in Galliac for the TT where he blew up. A tactical mistake he won't make again.

Personally, I'm curious to see how my man Tyler does. I think he could be more of a threat to Jan.

Lance, Tyler, Jan. 1-2-3. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
seven consecutive unless something bad happens. nmJS Haiku Shop
Dec 12, 2003 8:50 AM
Bold. I say six and then onto the Giro! Just kidding. nmkevinacohn
Dec 12, 2003 8:54 AM
I don't think he has a chance....divve
Dec 12, 2003 9:11 AM
....now that Simone has promised to put the hurt on him:)
You are kidding, right?funknuggets
Dec 12, 2003 11:56 AM
Simoni is a punk. He can climb insanely on steep stuff, but get him in a TT and he is sunk. Follow that with an almost assured 2 minute loss in the TTT, every hill climber in the bunch will pare him down and isolate him where he will get stroked. I like Simone, don't get me wrong, but Hamilton, Ullrich, and Lance are in a whole different league if you ask me. Simone is like a Pantani with hair... if that. A crooked loudmouth. May win a stage or two, but that at best. People know he's there, he's not going anywhere.

I don't get how some of these guys think that by calling Lance out, they are doing themselves some sort of favor? All they are trying to do is bring media attention to themselves. So be it. I dont think for next year's tour that I can feasibly put Gilbo in even the top 10... does anyone agree?

Chris
Yes, but at least one person thought I wasn't. nmdivve
Dec 12, 2003 3:17 PM
Yeah, but he was in Brussels because of a Sheryl Crow concert...Elefantino
Dec 12, 2003 9:35 AM
That's the real story.

Isn't it?

FWIW,
Mike
Can you imagine the lead groups on the climbs, can't wait...BIG RING
Dec 12, 2003 10:06 AM
Armstrong, Hamilton, Heras, Beloki, Ullrich, Basso, Vino,Mayo, WOW.
Armstrong buoyed for strong ride in 2004kevinacohn
Dec 12, 2003 10:38 AM
By JEROME PUGMIRE, Associated Press Writer

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- Lance Armstrong has his eyes on cycling history next year: a record sixth straight Tour de France title, with an elusive Olympic gold medal thrown in.

``I'm more motivated and I feel I have a point to prove,'' he said Friday. ``If I win again, it will make up for the last Tour. I was just not happy with my performance in 2003 and that's a big motivating factor.''

The only other five-time winners are Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil.

``The legends, like Merckx and Indurain wanted to win six. It's not like they suddenly stopped at five,'' Armstrong said. ``They all tried and I intend to do the same. I'm excited about it and I'd be very upset if I lost.''

He also is looking toward next summer's Athens Games. In his three Olympics, he has won only a bronze medal, a time trial in 2000, and come up empty in 1992 and 1996.

``I want gold, specifically in the time trial,'' he said. ``That is ... if they select me, of course.''

The 32-year-old rider acknowledges he is ``exiting'' his peak years while rival Jan Ullrich at 29 might be at the height of his powers.

``Jan is right back to his best,'' Armstrong said. ``He has the capacity to win this race (the Tour) and, on paper, he has a very strong team.''

Ullrich, a Tour winner in 1997 and five-time runner-up, pushed the Texan all the way in 2003, finishing 62 seconds behind. Armstrong was hindered by crashes, dehydration, technical problems, poor riding in the Alps and moments of self-doubt.

Ullrich will race for the German-owned T-Mobile team next year, alongside Kazak rider Alexander Vinokourov, who was third in the last Tour.

Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service team will be without Roberto Heras, an excellent mountain climber and tactician. Postal officials confirmed Friday that Heras has quit to join the Spanish Liberty Seguros. Portugal's Jose Azevedo will replace Heras from Once-Eroski.

``We've lost riders before,'' Armstrong said. ``It's a free-agent market. These things happen and there are no hard feelings. Besides, I'm perfectly happy with the team I have.''

Armstrong is unsure when he will stop racing.

``First of all, I have a hard job imagining I'll be a retired athlete in eight months time,'' he said. ``Another factor is whether the U.S. Postal team continues. The contract is up in 2004 and I don't have a lot of interest going anywhere else.''

``Then it comes down to what the heart says and what the legs say,'' he added. ``I'll have to decide if I'm still strong enough. You can't win forever.''