Lance Armstrong to ride spring classics says Bruyneel
Tour of Flanders and Liege-Bastogne-Liege on the schedule
Lance Armstrong will ride the spring classics Team RadioShack manager Johan Bruyneel today told the Spanish magazine Biciciclismo. Last year he rode in Milan San Remo, but this time out said Bruyneel his schedule will include the Tour of Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Amstel Gold.
The RadioShack team leader will kick things off at the Tour of Murcia in Spain two weeks before Milan San Remo. His final run up to the Tour de France will comprise the Tour of California - RadioShack and Armstrong had already said they would be missing the Giro to ride America's biggest race. Armstrong's fine pre-Tour outing will be in the Dauphiné Libéré a race he won in 2002 and 2003 in the middle of his Tour winning pomp.
Armstrong's participation in the Belgian races almost represents his career coming full circle, prior to his cancer he did ride the Belgian races and with some success. During his Tour de France dominating years Armstrong's critics made much of the fact that he didn't ride the early season classics but they certainly isn't unknown territory for the Texan - he won Fléche Wallone in 1996 and was 2nd in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and in 1999 he was first loser at the Amstel Gold.
On his return to cycling last year it was noted by many that his physique was closer to that of his early career when the classics were firmly a part of his racing agenda leading to speculation that he might ride them again. And although the focussed build up to a target race is now the norm for most top riders Armstrong showed last year that he could handle a more strenuous build up to the Tour – even allowing for his enforced absence from racing brought about by breaking his collarbone in the Vuelta a Castilla y León – and still put in a strong showing in France.
This year's schedule, if it is correct, looks if anything more controlled than his comeback last year some hard single day races early on, followed by stage racing at the Tour of California and the Dauphiné saving his big effort for the Tour itself.