American to use Spring and Ardennes classics to tune up for Tour de France's cobbles
Lance Armstrong has expanded his return to the Spring and Ardennes Classics this year, announcing that he will ride the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The inclusion of the two races on his race calendar follows confirmation from the 38-year-old that he will also ride the Amstel Gold Race.
The Team RadioShack captain has special motivation for riding the Ronde van Vlaanderen in particular - he will use the race to prepare for the cobbles that he will face at the Tour de France in July. Stage three of the Tour covers 207 kilometres from Wanze, Belgium, to Arenburg Porte du Hainaut, France
The cobblestone roads of Belgium and northern France will make their first appearance in the Tour since 2004. The stage will include seven cobbled sectors, covering a total of 13.2 kilometres. The final section will end only 10 kilometres before the stage finish.
"There are many more cobblestones than in 2004. The hardest moment is just before the stones where everyone chooses position,” he said in an interview broadcast on Monday night on Dutch NOS television.
“Last time I had Hincapie to lead me, but now I have a few other experienced guides.”
Armstrong has competed in the Ronde van Vlaanderen three times in his career (1995, 1996 and 2005). He has finished 28th on each of his two previous participations in the event.
He has raced Liège-Bastogne-Liège on five occasions (1994, 1995, 1996, 2002 and 2003), with second place finishes at the 1994 and 1996 editions.
The seven-time Tour de France winner will open his season this month at the Tour Down Under.
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