Tour de France changes suit Armstrong’s rivals

28th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 28 (AFP) - Tour de France organisers have cut down on the mountain finishes and individual time-trials for next year's race in a move which could help Lance Armstrong's rivals prevent the Texan winning a seventh Tour.

PARIS, Oct 28 (AFP) - Tour de France organisers have cut down on the mountain finishes and individual time-trials for next year's race in a move which could help Lance Armstrong's rivals prevent the Texan winning a seventh Tour.

The 3,600km Tour starts on the tiny Atlantic island of Noirmoutier just off Nantes on July 2 and winds clockwise around France, with an incursion into Germany, before finishing on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on July 24.

There are three mountain finishes - one in the Alps at Courchevel where ski jumping was held at the 1992 Winter Olympics - and two in the Pyrenees at Ax-3 Domaines and Saint-Lary-Soulan.

But the riders will have a testing time on the rolling hills of the Vosges and Massif Central.

The time-trial is timed for July 23 - just 24 hours before the Paris finish to ensure the suspense is maintained throughout the three weeks.

Organisers have yet to decide whether 21 or 22 teams of nine riders each will contest the epic which Armsrong won for an unprecedented sixth straight time this year.

However, Armstrong, 33, has yet to commit himself to next year's Tour.

His US Postal team chief Johan Bruyneel, back in France after seeing Armstrong in the United States, said: "He'll race if he is motivated but he has been motivating himself for the last six years. When I saw him he was very laid back about it.

A decision is expected next February or March. "When he starts racing next year he'll discover how motivated he is," added another of his team officials, Dirk DeMol.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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