ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) Lance Armstrong says he’s much better prepared and fitter for the Tour Down Under than he was a year ago in his comeback race after more than three years away from cycling.
Asked about his mindset for the Adelaide race, which runs from Jan. 17-24, seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong told Australian Associated Press from Hawaii: “Totally different, because last year it had been 3½ years since I had raced.
“I don’t even know what my mindset was — (it) was: ‘I’m just going to get back into the thing, I don’t know what the sport is like these days, I don’t know what the tempo is like these days.'”
He said his focus this year will be on winning his eighth Tour de France title.
“There will be definitely more emphasis on the race from me, but that will probably be consistent throughout the year,” he said.
“My time and training and focus and emphasis on racing will be a little more than it was last year. I’m really doubling down on the racing side of things to see if we can get an eighth Tour (title).”
One year of racing helps his 2010 preparation, he said.
“I know all of those things now — as I sit here and train in Hawaii, there’s no guesswork for me. I’m not curious at all and that helps, a lot.
“Then, the fact that I’ve done a full racing season … that just helps build the base I didn’t have last year.”
Armstrong does not expect to contend for the Tour Down Under after finishing 29th overall last year.
He said the initial goal for his new RadioShack team will be stage wins and their principle rider will be Belgian sprinter Gert Steegmans. And Armstrong will share the main billing for the Tour with Australia’s world road race champion Cadel Evans.
Asked if he was fitter than 12 months ago, Armstrong replied: “Probably yeah — but whenever I say that, expectations go up.
“It’s human nature for people to have those expectations and the one you can’t do — you don’t want to say ‘I have to win’, but you can’t completely let them down. I certainly don’t expect to win, but I expect to be stronger than last year.”