Visconti Wins First Stage of 2010 Tour of Luxembourg; Lance Armstrong Third

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06/3/2010| 0 comments
by AP

Visconti Wins First Stage of 2010 Tour of Luxembourg; Lance Armstrong Third

Lance Armstrong was third overall after two days of the Tour of Luxembourg on Thursday, satisfied that he is riding stronger before the 2010 Tour de France.

Lance Armstrong was third overall after two days of the Tour of Luxembourg on Thursday, satisfied that he is riding stronger before the 2010 Tour de France.

Giovanni Visconti of Italy won the first stage, while Armstrong stayed up front in the main pack to finish 50th in the 111.8-mile ride from Luxembourg to Hesperange.

"I can't lie, there were some guys sitting up on the final little climb there, [3 miles] from the finish and other guys riding off the front, attacking, and I made it across there relatively easily, which is a good sign," the 38-year-old Armstrong said. "It's been a very long time since I've been able to do that."

Armstrong's RadioShack team worked hard to catch three breakaway riders 9.3 miles from the finish. After the first stage and Wednesday's prologue, Armstrong trails race leader Cyril Lemoine of France by one second. Armstrong's teammate Gregory Rast of Switzerland was second with the same time as Lemoine.

Armstrong, whose season has been hampered by illness and last month's crash in the Tour of California, is using the Tour of Luxembourg as part of his preparations for the Tour de France. He will compete in the Tour of Switzerland to make up for the racing days he missed this year.

"The ambition is to be making progress, avoid problems, stay on the good way for the Tour," Armstrong said. "This race is awfully technical in terms of the amount of turns, hundreds of turns and climbs and wind. The wind is hard to predict. If you're not from here, which of course we're not, it's sometimes confusing."

Armstrong crashed out of the Tour of California on May 20, hurting his elbow and getting cut under his left eye. He still has some lingering effects but said he surprised himself with his strong performance in the short but demanding climbs on Thursday.

"[I] just [want to] finish every race and avoid the accidents that I've had over the last two years. Just day by day," Armstrong said.

Armstrong, who broke his collarbone last year in his first comeback season, was forced to withdraw from Milan-San Remo in March, citing gastroenteritis, and pulled out from the Circuit de la Sarthe with a stomach illness.

On Thursday, early breakaway riders Anthony Charteau, Johnny Hoogerland and Morten Knudsen built up a six-minute lead before RadioShack started the chase 31 miles from the finish.

Armstrong said his team worked hard because it was important to stay upfront and avoid a potential crash.

"I think we feel like we can win the race, we have a couple of guys who can win the overall," Armstrong said.

The Tour of Luxembourg is Armstrong's first race since his former U.S. Postal teammate Floyd Landis admitted to doping throughout his career and alleged that Armstrong was also involved.

Armstrong was angered by a reporter asking him if had taken EPO during his career and if he tried to bribe an International Cycling Union official following an alleged positive test.

"How many times would I have to answer the same

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