Bjarne Riis does not believe that Lance Armstrong can win the Tour de France again. He praised the seven-time Tour winner for his comeback, but said he doubted the American would even make it to the podium this year.
“I am deeply impressed by what he delivered last year. It was beautiful and deserves great respect,” Riis said in an interview on the Danish website sporten.dk. The 2009 Tour de France route “was perfectly suited for him,” added Riis, however, he expects Armstrong to struggle on this year's course.
“There are many more hills this year, the route is harder, and it will give Lance major problems. He must pull himself together to make the top-five,” according to Riis, who won the Tour in 1996.
“I think he can do well, but it will be difficult for him to get on the podium. So he must really do much better, and I do not think he can. He is getting older.”
Riis's picks to win are, naturally, his own Saxo Bank riders Andy and Fränk Schleck, and defending champion Alberto Contador of Astana.
“When Fränk, Andy and Contador are going up the biggest climbs, Lance can't stay with them. In 2009, when Fränk won his stage, it was clear that Lance couldn't go with them,” Riis said. “He did well on Mont Ventoux, but that's only one mountain. This year the route suits us much better.”
Riis is also looking forward to a battle between Contador and Armstrong, with perhaps Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins thrown into the mix. He is hopeful that if those three concentrate on one another, the Schlecks could quietly go about their own business and take the win. “We can profit from that and ride our own race. It is wildly interesting.”
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