Lance Armstrong has outlined his expectations for Team RadioShack as it prepares for its first race together. Armstrong is expecting at least one stage victory when the team lines up next week for the ProTour-opening Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia.
“We need to perform,” said the Texan. “If we leave without a stage win, I would be disappointed.”
RadioShack’s entire executive team will fly in for the race, adding pressure to an already closely watched team debut. “We understand that this is a big commitment on their part,” Armstrong said after arriving in Adelaide with partner Anna Hansen and son Max.
“I’m probably not here to win the overall classification of the race myself,” he admitted. “You win a race because you have an exceptional condition and because the course suits you. My condition is better than 12 months ago, but we learned that bunch sprints often dictate the race. As going strong uphill and sprinting is the recipe for winning here, I believe Andre Greipel and Allan Davis are again the favourites and I see Alejandro Valverde being competitive as well.”
Armstrong arrived in Adelaide from Hawaii, where he’s been training since Christmas day. His longest ride recently was six hours in duration but Armstrong has been averaging three to four hours on the bike daily.
“I haven’t raced since the Tour of Ireland in August,” he said. “My training data is good but it doesn’t tell me that I’ve become a sprinter to win the Santos Tour Down Under. I’ll use Willunga Hill to test myself but our overall ambition is to have a win in the team.”
The RadioShack line up for the Santos Tour Down Under includes Daryl Impey, Jason McCartney, Yaroslav Popovych, Sébastien Rosseler and Tomas Vaitkus but Armstrong designated Gert Steegmans as its man to watch. “He will be a factor in the race,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong’s new Belgian team-mate Steegmans hasn’t raced since last June. His contract with Team Katusha was dissolved last August after Steegmans refused to sign the team’s new anti-doping agreement which required riders to pay five times their annual salary as a fine to the team if they were ever found to have violated doping regulations.