Stomach virus knocks Lance Armstrong out of Circuit Sarthe race
Laid low by a virus that began making its way through the cycling peloton last week, Team RadioShack's Lance Armstrong did not start the second stage of the Circuit Sarthe-Pays de la Loire race in France Wednesday. According to a team statement, Armstrong became ill at the end of stage one. Five other Team RadioSchack riders, Geoffroy Lequatre, Dmitriy Muravyev, Gregory Rast and Sebastien Rosseler as well as team manager Johan Bruyneel also became ill.
Only four RadioShack racers are left for the rest of the Sarthe race. According to team director Alain Gallopin, Armstrong may add a race to his schedule. "Maybe we will have to change his program again," Gallopin said. "Lance was really keen on performing well, especially in the time trial of Wednesday afternoon. He showed his growing condition last week in the Tour of Flanders, where he came in with the first group sprinting for the fifth place."
In Armstrong's absence, teammate Tiago Machado of Portugal won the time trial and another RadioShack rider, Yaroslav Popovych, finished fourth.
Armstrong's next announced race is the Amgen Tour of California, May 16-23. Since he also announced he was leaving Europe as soon as he felt well enough, there is speculation that if Armstrong adds another race it might be the SRAM Tour of Gila in Silver City, N.M., April 28-May 2. Armstrong, Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer raced together there last year after Armstrong had suffered a broken collarbone early in his spring racing program.
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: Lance Armstrong talks to reporter's before Tuesday's leg. Credit: Yves Logghe / Associated Press.