Team RadioShack to Take Team Approach at 2010 Tour de France Behind Lance Armstrong

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06/28/2010| 0 comments
by AP, with additional commentary by Roadcycling.com
Lance Armstrong.
Lance Armstrong.

Team RadioShack to Take Team Approach at 2010 Tour de France Behind Lance Armstrong

Team boss Johan Bruyneel hopes trio of top riders will stop two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.

Team boss Johan Bruyneel hopes trio of top riders will stop two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.

Team RadioShack might not have the Tour de France favorite in its ranks, but team boss Johan Bruyneel hopes a trio made up of Lance Armstrong, Andreas Kloeden and Levi Leipheimer will derail defending champion Alberto Contador's bid to win the showcase event for a third time.

Contador, who defeated Armstrong last July to claim a second Tour victory, is favored to defend his title.

But although the Spaniard has the odds on his side, seven-time champion Armstrong and his longtime friend and mentor Bruyneel believe that playing the team card could help RadioShack knock Contador off his perch.

"The big favorite is not in our team," Bruyneel recently told the Associated Press. "But it's better to have three cards to play from a strategic point of view. Among our three leaders, Lance is maybe the best, but we'll see during the race."

The three-week Tour starts Saturday from the Dutch port of Rotterdam.

Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times in a row before retiring in 2005. He came back to racing last year following a 3.5-year absence and finished third while riding alongside Contador with the Astana team.

Kloeden finished second in the Tour in 2004 and 2006 while Leipheimer was third in 2007.

"Our three leaders had a break this season. Kloeden and Leipheimer because they already had a lot of races under their belts and Lance because of his crash at the Tour of California in May," Bruyneel said. "Their condition is rising and hopefully they will have reached their peak for the first day of the race."

The first week of this year's race should be very tense with riders going through seven cobblestone sectors over a total of 8.2 miles in the third stage between Wanze, Belgium, and Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, France, on July 6.

It will be the first time since 2004 that riders will have to handle cobblestones.

"My riders will have to be on top from the first day," said Bruyneel, the man behind Armstrong's Tour de France victories. "It will be windy, the race will be very nervous and we'll have to tackle cobblestones."

Armstrong -- who launched his new team after last year's Tour -- Kloeden and Leipheimer will be supported by Chris Horner, Janez Brajkovic, Sergio Paulinho, Yaroslav Popovych, Gregory Rast and Dmitriy Muravyev during the Tour.

"We have one of the strongest, one of the best teams," Armstrong said. "I don't think any of us go in as a favorite for the Tour, but between the three of us you never know. It's safe to say we'll always have the three of us in the final selection."

A three-leader strategy, however, is not a guarantee of success. In 2005, the former T-Mobile team, fielding former Tour winner Jan Ullrich, Alexandre Vinokourov and Kloeden failed in its bid to destroy Armstrong's goal to win a seventh straight Tour.

"I want to believe that nobody is unbeatable, especially at the Tour

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