Despite a late scare that threatened to bump him off the final podium, a satisfied Lance Armstrong finished third in the Tour de Luxembourg as he prepares for next month's Tour de France.
Heavy rains and flooded streets caused the RadioShack rider to slip back as the final stage entered the closing circuit course and consequently the American veteran finished over two minutes down on the stage. Race judges ruled that the stage would have no effect on the overall rankings because of the terrible weather conditions, so Armstrong finished third overall behind Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil) and Fränk Schleck (Saxo Bank).
“We rode four days in beautiful conditions and suddenly all hell broke loose,” Armstrong told Sportwereld.be. A thunderstorm with lightning, thunder and driving rains started just as the riders started on the first of what was supposed to be five laps of the closing circuit. The jury cut the race to only three laps.
"I am pleased with my week in Luxembourg,” Armstrong added. “I felt strong. My third place is nice. This is better than I hoped and expected."
The 38-year-old was already looking forward to his next race, the Tour de Suisse, where he'll also be able to gauge his form against Schleck. “There are a lot of climbs here but no long climbs and no long TT’s. That’s what we will do in Suisse,” he said on the team's website. “Then we will have the answers. For now I feel strong. My recovery was good. I was glad to stay upright.”
Johan Bruyneel, the RadioShack team manager said, “Lance needs Suisse but it looks good. Luxembourg was necessary anyway after he missed California. He needed the rhythm of competition. Here we had four days of up and down. It was hard.”
The seven-time Tour de France winner had an unpleasant encounter with a spectator after the stage. “Liar, cheater,” the spectator shouted. “Come here and say that right in my face,” Armstrong responded. The spectator did not accept the challenge, and disappeared.