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Contador and Schleck hard to beat in 2010, Armstrong says

By:
Cycling News
Published:
December 31, 2009, 12:18 GMT,
Updated:
December 31, 2009, 9:47 GMT
Edition:
Second Edition Cycling News, Thursday, December 31, 2009
USA's Lance Armstrong (Astana) watches the 2010 Tour de France presentation in Paris

USA's Lance Armstrong (Astana) watches the 2010 Tour de France presentation in Paris

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Seven-time Tour winner totally focused on 2010 Tour de France

There is no question as to what Lance Armstrong's goal is in the coming season. In the second part of an extensive interview with Belgian papers De Telegraaf and Het Nieuwsblad, the seven-time Tour de France winner reiterated his objective for next year, and affirmed once again that he will be more competitive than in 2009.

"I have more to lose in 2010 than last season. Every muscle in my body that is focused on one goal: the Tour in 2010. For sure, I'll be better, " he said.

When asked whether he thought he could win the race once again, four years after his retirement, he said, "It will be very difficult. I should be better than in 2009. I will be better. For sure.” But the main difficulty will be, once again, the competition. Former teammate Alberto Contador "will be very hard to beat. Like Andy Schleck. He is a very good rider, perhaps the best we ever saw.”

Armstrong noted that the low point of the year was breaking his collarbone at the Castilla y Leon stage race in March. “A particularly hard time. No, a hard period. I was out for weeks, and the comeback was far more difficult I ever expected.” But he turned the corner at the Giro d'Italia. “I knew if I finished there, I could finish anywhere.”

The season highlight, of course, was his relative success at the Tour, saying he was “happy with my third place at the Tour”, even if photos from the winners' ceremony in Paris seem to indicate otherwise. But at that point, Armstrong noted, he simply wanted to go home after a stressful three weeks.

“It is no secret. It was a bizarre, unpleasant situation. I was empty inside. I knew then that we would leave Astana, that I had a great new partner in RadioShack and that we would take the guys and the staff with us."

Another difficult situation for him involved a former teammate, George Hincapie, who rode for Columbia-HTC at the Tour. "The biggest problem was situated in Pontarlier when George Hincapie just missed out on the yellow jersey. That was stressful. George thought that we had ridden against him, which we did not. The American TV stations jumped on it. It was a mess. George didn't want to speak to any of us. For weeks.”

Going into the race, Armstrong said, “I thought I could win. Even during the Tour.” However, he admitted, “I was never close to overall victory.”

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