Lance Armstrong says he has lost weight and improved his fitness since finishing fourth in the Dauphiné Libéré earlier this month. "I feel strong on the bike,'' Armstrong told the Associated Press, saying that he had lost more than 3 pounds since the Dauphine. "I feel a lot better than I did in the Dauphiné," he added. "I'm recovering well."
Armstrong expects to need that weight loss in the Tour de France because he thinks the crucial battle ground in this year's race, as in 2004, will be the Alps and Pyrenees. "This year, the Tour will be won in the mountains," he said.
As usual, Armstrong has thoroughly reconnoitered the Tour's climbs, and spent some time in the Alps after the Dauphine riding the climbs of stages 10, 11 and 12. Armstrong said he found the ascents chosen for this year's Alpine section "much harder than I expected" and thinks stage 12 will be particularly tough. "There are no big climbs but it's going to be a hard day. There will be some surprises for a lot of people, especially if it is very hot," he said.