Lance Armstrong's coach Chris Carmichael believes the six-time Tour de France winner will be "100 percent ready" to win a seventh and last Tour de France when the Grand Boucle rolls out on July 2.
Carmichael's confidence comes from many years of monitoring Armstrong's form in the lead-up to the Tour. "I typically see a 2-3 percent increase in Lance's sustainable power between the days prior to the Dauphine and the days immediately prior to the Tour de France," said Carmichael in team diary entry looking back on Armstrong's performance at the Dauphiné. "As a confirmation of his condition, he'll perform one more performance test about 10 days after the Dauphiné. I'll never forget looking at the results of a similar test seven years ago, just four days before the 1999 Tour de France began. He had reached the level where he was capable of winning the Tour de France, and he consistently returned to that level every year since."
Armstrong's performance at the Dauphiné always leads to speculation about his condition going into the Tour de France, but Carmichael says, "It's not necessary to win the Dauphiné en route to winning the Tour de France. Rather, the race serves to apply stress that leads to adaptation. Lance will take almost a week of rest following the Dauphiné, in order to allow his body to recover and adapt."
Armstrong has been concentrating on his time trialling in the last several weeks, after initially focusing on climbing. "Following the Tour of Georgia, where he was relatively disappointed with his time trial performance, Lance began working out on his TT bike at least twice per week," said Carmichael. "One of the benefits of a long career as a professional cyclist is the ability to rapidly adapt to training stimulus. Where it used to take 5-7 weeks early in his career, I've found that Lance's sustainable power can now move from a relatively under-trained state to race-ready within about three to five weeks."
The final performance test before the Tour will show where Armstrong's form stands, says Carmichael. "With his recent performance at the Dauphiné Libéré as a prelude, I'm confident the results of this last performance test will again show he's 100% ready to pursue a seventh and final Tour de France yellow jersey," he said.