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Friday, January 30, 2009

Lance Armstrong upbeat after comeback

Lance Armstrong finished 29th in the final standings in his competitive comeback in the Tour Down Under.

The seven-times Tour de France winner was 49 seconds behind overall leader Allan Davis of Australia after the 81km sixth and final stage in Adelaide.

Armstrong, making his comeback after three years, took the lead towards the end but was unable to remain in front.

More than 144,000 people turned out to see the stage which was raced over 18 laps of a 4.5km street circuit.

The American hit the front with little more than a lap remaining but quickly fell back into the peleton, finishing 71st on the stage.

"I can't lie. I felt pretty good today," said the 37-year-old American.

"It was a comfortable circuit and I gave it a little go with a couple of laps left but I needed to be with some more guys. I couldn't stay away from the charging field.

"It helps when you have good legs. I felt a lot better today, actually felt the best day of the entire week so when you feel good and you have good legs, you have to go for it don't you."

Armstrong's next race will be the Tour of California from 14-22 February.

"[This] is a good indication I've done the right work. I still have to fine tune things, get lighter, still get fitter and work on certain aspects of my conditioning but I'm headed in the right way," he said.

"I'd say we're on track if not ahead of schedule. Even if it was a normal year when you're focused on July [and the Tour de France] I wouldn't be riding this well in January."

Davis, twice a runner-up in the Tour Down Under, won three of the tour's first five stages to lead by 25 seconds going into the final stage and finished among the main group to ensure victory. Francesco Chicchi of Italy won the stage in a sprint finish.

"I've finally done it, I can't believe it," said Davis.

"This win is very important to the [Quick Step] team. It's the first ProTour race of the season. With three stages and the overall it has been an unbelievable race."

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