Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) was satisfied his fifth place in the prologue at the Tour de Luxembourg on Wednesday, and convinced his season is now back on track after a series of problems that he described as 'speed bumps' along the road to this year's ultimate goal, the Tour de France.
Armstrong was next-to-last starter in the 2.6km evening time trial, going off just before local hero Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank) and riding as the evening light began to fade. The Texan set a time of 3:51. That was nine seconds slower than stage winner Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) but four seconds faster than teammate Andreas Klöden and eight seconds faster than Fränk Schleck. Armstrong was pleased he had the power for the short but very intense effort.
“I felt good. It was obviously short and fast, probably not my specialty but I felt pretty good. There were times when you had to accelerate, to use absolute power and I felt I had that. I am happy,” Armstrong said.
The seven-time Tour de France winner decided to add the Tour de Luxembourg to his race programme after a series of crashes and illness disrupted his racing in recent months. However, he has been able to train solidly since pulling out of the Tour of California and looked lean and fit as he powered round the technical prologue course.
"There are still some lingering effects (from the crash) but it's nothing that's going to keep me from training hard, racing hard," he said. "It's been kind of a year of speed bumps, little hiccups or false starts. The stomach bug in La Sarthe was a big problem, the crash was also a problem but there's nothing we can do. The reason I came here is to get four or five extra race days and hopefully (the Tour of Switzerland later this month) will provide those too."
Armstrong admitted to the Reuters news agency that he feels under more pressure to perform this year rather than in 2009 because he now owns the team sponsored by RadioShack.
"Last year at the Tour I felt no pressure, absolutely no pressure. It was not my team; I did not take a salary. I was there just riding, to do everything with the (Livestrong) foundation. This year is different. This is my team and we put the team together and we organise it, we organise the money. So with that comes pressure," Armstrong said.
Also, Armstrong was accused of doping by former teammate Floyd Landis before he crashed out of the Tour of California. He refuted the idea that the subsequent investigation has gone quiet.
“I wouldn’t say it’s quiet. But nobody needs to feel sorry for me, I’m fine,” he said.
Armstrong and the rest of the Tour de Luxembourg face a hilly 179km stage on Thursday, from Luxembourg to Hesperange. The five-day Tour de Luxembourg ends on Sunday.