Armstrong's stressful second week

Leipheimer falls victim to atypical second week

Lance Armstrong faced a stressful second week of his first Tour de France since 2005. He lost key helper Levi Leipheimer due to crash in Thursday's stage to Vittel.

"It is stressful with the crashes. A stage like this, with nothing to gain, you would hate to lose everything because of a crash or a split in the group," Armstrong said yesterday morning.

"You have to constantly pay attention. I try to give myself a little space to have a little extra time to brake. But when they start fast on those narrow roads there are going to be crashes."

Leipheimer crashed in the final moments of the 211.5-kilometre stage from Tonnerre to Vittel. He has multiple bruises and road rash on his back and hip, and, it was discovered on Friday morning, a fractured wrist.

He finished stage 12 but abandoned before Friday's stage to Colmar. The stage may be decisive with the Col du Firstplan coming 20.5 kilometres before the finish.

"It is not really typical for the second week, normally things would be settled down a little bit and the breaks go," Armstrong said yesterday morning. "But we had a rest day and then a day that was probably not that demanding - guys were fresh with tailwinds and on small roads."

Armstrong, a seven-time Tour winner, returned to racing last fall after a three-year retirement. He is currently third overall, eight seconds behind leader Rinaldo Nocentini. His Astana teammate and 2007 race winner, Alberto Contador, is second at six seconds back.

Armstrong will have a more relaxed schedule after the Tour de France. He will race the three-day Tour of Ireland,  from August 19-23 and participate in a three-day cancer awareness summit afterwards.

"A lot of good beer there? I will already be enjoying beer before that," he said

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