A block of training in Hawaii will serve Lance Armstrong well in the build up to next week's Tour Down Under, with Adelaide turning the heat on for the riders. The former Tour de France champion, who arrived in South Australia on Sunday evening, will face temperatures of 41 degrees Celsius in Adelaide today, with the race expected to commence in mid 30s.
Armstrong, however, believes it's not questions over his condition that will be an obstacle, but getting back in the grove of racing in a bunch. The American retired following his final Tour de France win in 2005, however announced last September he would return to the sport to help raise awareness for cancer.
"I know I have questions about my personal condition, but I've worked hard to get in shape, I've worked hard to show up here and try to ride at the front," he said. "But when you're one man out of 200, it's strange how 199 other guys dictate how your day goes. I think it would be unrealistic to expect a victory."
Despite his success on the international stage, Armstrong admits to being nervous about his return to professional racing in Adelaide. Armstrong has contested a small mountain bike and road race since announcing his return, in addition to completing wind tunnel sessions and a training block in Hawaii.
"I have a little bit of insecurity and a little bit of nervousness there, and so that's the reason I've tried to train hard and prepare hard - I'm fairly fit," he said. "You have to consider cycling; it's not just about your physical condition, it's about 200 guys going down the road and going around dangerous corners at 40 to 50 miles an hour - and how does that feel?
"That's a dynamic that you can't simulate in training, so I've got to get in the group," he added. "And those are the things that most people look at and think we're nuts to do this."
Armstrong met with South Australian Premier Mike Rann on Monday at his first press engagement since arriving in Australia. Rann's government is a major backer of Tour Down Under, now in its second year as a ProTour event.
"Really enjoyed meeting and spending time with him," Armstrong wrote on his Twitter after the meeting.
The Tour Down Under gets underway on Sunday evening with the Cancer Council Classic, a criterium pre-cursor to the actual ProTour race which commences on Tuesday.