No doubt conscious of the atrocious weather conditions at the start of Stage 3, Lance Armstrong (Astana) left it until the very last minute to make his way from the Astana team bus to the start line.
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Team leader Armstrong talks 2010 schedules
As fledgling squad RadioShack prepares for its inaugural season, Lance Armstrong has provided an indication of what the team's calendar may look like in 2010.
Speaking to French magazine Velo, Armstrong discussed the possible program for RadioShack's riders, starting with the Santos Tour Down Under on Jaunary 19.
"We start with the Tour Down Under [January 19-24]," began Armstrong. "The first race in Europe will be the Tour of Murcia [in early March] or possibly Paris-Nice. Then some classics, perhaps... La Flèche Wallonne, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, it's not certain."
The American made a solid comeback in 2009 - despite a fractured collarbone suffered during stage one of the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, he managed 12th overall in the Giro d'Italia and third overall in the Tour de France behind Astana teammate Alberto Contador.
It wasn't all smooth sailing for the experienced Texan, who wants 2010 to be a little less hectic and isn't afraid to say so. "I need a 2010 that's easier than 2009," he explained. "Less travel. Less restlessness, or falls..."
With quality riders such as Levi Leipheimer, Sergio Paulinho and Janez Brajkovic lining up for RadioShack, the schedule will be a busy one for the American outfit, consisting of the year's highest-profile events. That includes making the crucial choice between the Giro d'Italia and the Tour of California.
As Tour of California organiser Andrew Messick recently explained to Cyclingnews, the race will now be run in May to maximise the chances of favourable weather conditions for the event, meaning it now clashes with the first grand tour of the year.
"There is a dilemma between the Giro and the Tour of California, which both run in May," said Armstrong. "RadioShack is an American sponsor, but the Giro is good preparation for the Tour."
The seven-time Tour de France champion, who famously spent the month before each of his Tour victories familiarising himself with the race's big climbs, indicated there would be a return to that type of preparation in June 2010.
"June will be more traditional. In Europe. With reconnaisance of the stages [of the Tour]," he explained.
As for the competition in next year's Tour, it's undeniable that the battle between former teammates and arguably the two biggest names at the French event - Armstrong and reigning champion Alberto Contador - promises to be the highlight of the race.
The American was paying his Spanish rival plenty of respect however, despite a very public stoush following this year's edition of La Grande Boucle. "Man to man, Alberto is very hard to beat," he admitted.
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