Armstrong's pre-Tour plans still up in the air

May ride Tour of Luxembourg, but still dealing with crash injuries

Lance Armstrong's preparations for the Tour de France remain up in the air, as he recovers from injuries suffered in a crash in the fifth stage of the Tour of California, which forced him out of the race.

Armstrong is still in the US, Team RadioShack spokesman Philippe Maertens told Cyclingnews Monday afternoon. 

It has been rumoured that the seven-time Tour de France winner will next ride the Tour of Luxembourg in early June.  “There is a good chance that he will do Luxembourg,” Maertens said.  “It will be decided next week.”

Race president Frank Zeimet confirmed that to the Luxembourg website, saying the decision would be not be made until a few days before the race starts.

The Tour of Luxembourg was the first race that Armstrong won after his comeback after cancer surgery, in 1998.  “Lance Armstrong is a pro cyclist, who won't be at the start of the Tour of Luxembourg just to ride in the middle of the field.  He is the type who always wants to win,” Zeimet said.

The Tour of Luxembourg runs June 2 to 6, ending barely four weeks before the start of the Tour de France. A participation there would make it impossible for him to line up at the Dauphiné Libéré (June 6-13), one of the two traditional Tour de France preparation races.

The beginning of April Armstrong said that he would ride the Tour de Suisse (June 12-20) as his final Tour de France preparation, instead of the Dauphiné, which rival Alberto Contador (Astana) has on his schedule. However, his team promptly denied that the final decision had been made, and it has now been rumoured that Armstrong would not ride in Switzerland either.

That would give Armstrong a minimum of racing going into the Tour de France.  He  abandoned the Tour of California on the fifth stage last week.  His previous race was the five-day Tour of Gila, a national event and not UCI sanctioned.  Prior to that, he rode only the first stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe in the beginning of April. So far this season he has ridden only three stage races to the end, the Tour Down Under in January, and the Vuelta a Murcia and Criterium International in March.

In addition, the 38-year-old is also recovering of injuries suffered in a crash in the neutral zone of the fifth stage of the Tour of California. Caught in a mass crash, he hurt his elbow and sustained a cut near the left eye. The elbow injury was feared to be the most dangerous, but x-rays showed nothing was broken.

Now, however, the cut near his eye is causing worries. His attorney Bill Stapleton told the USA Today newspaper that the injury was more serious than originally thought.

"His (left) eye looks pretty bad, the cut goes from the bottom of his eyelid to his nose. He may have to see the surgeon again before he leaves for next week's Tour of Luxembourg, “ Armstrong said.

Maertens told Cyclingnews that he had no new information on the cheek injury.

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