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Armstrong may add Sarthe to race schedule

Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) time trials to an 8th place finish.

Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) time trials to an 8th place finish. (Image credit: Bosco Martin)

Lance Armstrong may add the four-day Circuit de la Sarthe-Pays de la Loire to his pre-Tour de France race calendar, after he recorded a seventh-placed finish at the Vuelta a Murcia on Sunday.

“Worried would be too strong of a word. I'm aware of [my performance in Murcia], but not too stressed,” Armstrong told AP.

The 38-year-old is looking to win his eighth Tour de France this summer. In Murcia, he finished seventh overall, 1:23 down on winner Frantisek Rabon (Team HTC - Columbia).

The RadioShack rider also finished 33 seconds adrift of Tour rival Bradley Wiggins (Sky), losing much of his eventual deficit in the race's stage four time trial. “My position on the bike was good, but the power was not,” he said.

RadioShack Team Manager Johan Bruyneel said that Armstrong would probably add another race to his schedule in order to hone his form for July. However, the Belgian also indicated that relative to Armstrong's past performances in Murcia, there were positives to be drawn.

“In Lance's case, he needs more competition. His physical fitness overall is okay, but he just needs to get the speed and acceleration," said Bruyneel. "Looking at the Vuelta a Murcia in the past, he’s probably a bit ahead of what he was then.”

Armstrong's additional race may be the Sarthe-Pays de la Loire from April 6-9. It would be the second time he will have competed in the event. He finished 25th overall in his previous participation, in 2001.

His next race this season is expected to be Milano-Sanremo, on March 20.

Armstrong will fly this week to South Africa for a charity race this weekend. He hopes to meet there with Nelson Mandela, calling it “an opportunity of a lifetime,” however, a meeting with the former South African president has not yet been scheduled.

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