Chris Carmichael Interview
Carmichael looks back on the first eleven Tour de France stages and discusses Armstrong's current form.
Looking back on the past eleven stages in this year?s Tour de France, what is the first thing that comes to mind? <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
The first thing, which comes to mind over the past eleven stages, is the number of close calls. With Lance going down on stage one and then his cyclocross journey, we?ve been fortunate thus far to avoid any major crisis.
What has been the biggest surprise for you?
Tyler Hamilton is not only still in the race, but placing well in the GC.
Are you impressed with the form and tactics of Armstrong?s challengers? Surprised?
No, I?m not surprised with the challengers. Many of them said they would attack and it was expected. When you are on top of the mountain, there are always those who want to knock you off.
So far we?ve seen some challengers disappoint in the Tour. Simoni appears to be slightly worn down from taking part in the Giro in May. Also, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
These day?s you really can?t afford to race into shape. If you don?t come ready to race you may get left behind.
In the past four years Lance Armstrong has appeared unbeatable and invincible when taking part in the Tour de France. This year, some reporters have noticed what they consider to be weaknesses. Do you believe that Armstrong?s skills have begun to erode?
No, his skills have not begun to erode. His challengers however know they must raise their skill level to try and beat him. Lance also had a minor stomach problem starting the tour, compounded by the crash on the first day, which may have made him appear to be less dominant than past years.
Has Armstrong not trained as hard for the Tour as he has to do? Is he no longer up to his training regimen?
He has trained just as hard, if not harder, than past years.
There were some adjustments made to Armstrong?s strategy during stage 8 of the Tour. Why were these adjustments made, and do you communicate with Armstrong during the race to discuss strategy based upon how he?s doing physically?
Tactics are basically the decision of Johan Bruyneel. We discuss this prior to the tour and on our scouting trips, but on race day Johan makes the call. He is a brilliant tactician.
What is the relationship between you and Johan Bruyneel - director sportif of Team
We have a very good relationship. We know each other?s role and don?t try to do each other?s job. I prepare Lance to be physically ready to win the tour and Johan works with Lance, and the entire team, on executing the plan.
Is Armstrong always agreeable to the training regiment and schedule that you establish for him?
When Lance was younger, we used to ?battle? a little about how he should