Discovery Channel teammates Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie have made a strong return to racing, after both suffered illness in recent weeks. The pair were part of the Discovery team in today's Brabantse Pijl, which was won by World Champion Oscar Freire. Hincapie missed the final three man break with Freire, Axel Merckx and Marc Lotz, but did manage to finish 6th in the small group sprint behind them. Armstrong played more of a support role, riding near the front of the peloton to ensure that the break with Hincapie in it would stay away, eventually finishing 43rd, but it was clear he was in better form than in Paris-Nice a few weeks ago.
An upbeat Armstrong spoke to Canvas TV before the start of the race, and was asked by reporter Renate Schotte what he'd been up to since Paris-Nice. "Nothing, I've just been partying, drinking beer, eating pizza, reading all the onzin [nonsense] in the paper," joked Armstrong, before adding: "No. I've been training in the Canary Islands and trained hard and tried to focus on some longer efforts, longer climbs."
Armstrong said that today, "I'll try to ride in the front and stay out of trouble. The circuits are hard, so we'll see what happens."
He also paid tribute to the racing in Belgium and said that he was looking forward to next week's Tour of Flanders. "I think this is the country where cycling truly is the king, especially now because you have a great young generation of riders here in Belgium. You see the races, you see a lot of people on the course. C'mon [Tour of] Flanders is the king. If you compare it to Paris-Roubaix, it's a much more beautiful race. I'm not saying Roubaix is bad, but Flanders is a true classic."
Armstrong finished by saying that he would be playing a supporting role for his teammates in the Ronde. "With George and Stijn we have a strong team. It's fun for me to try to help them."