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Tour challenger raises the bar at Dauphiné Libéré

Thursday’s Mont Ventoux time trial proved decisive in the Dauphiné Libéré, with the substantial lead acquired by Iban Mayo (Euskaltel-Euskadi) proving unassailable in the final stages. Lance Armstrong’s final fourth-place position behind Mayo, Tyler Hamilton and Oscar Sevilla in this traditional Tour de France tune-up race has raised questions about his readiness for July’s record attempt.

Already marked by the press as a key potential challenger for this year’s Tour, Mayo’s near two-minute lead on Armstong up Ventoux will lift the Spaniard’s confidence as the Tour looms.

But while Armstrong himself has admitted that he didn’t go as fast as he wanted or hoped to on Mont Ventoux, he appears unruffled by both his competitors’ and his own performance and refuses to accept it as a barometer for the upcoming Tour: “Let’s took at the results after the l’Alpe d’Huez time trial and the facts may be that they (the opposition) are getting closer,” he told Cycling News in interview, “but I don’t think you’ll see the same results then that you saw on le Mont Ventoux. I fact, I know you won’t.”

Meanwhile a storm is brewing over a new book ‘LA Confidential – The secrets of Lance Armstrong’ due to appear on shelves this week containing fresh allegations that Armstrong has been involved with doping. The book, co-written by sports journalist David Walsh of the Sunday Times and Pierre Ballester, previously of L’Equipe, reports allegations by former USPS physiotherapist, Emma O’Reilly, that Lance has used EPO in the past.

It’s far from the first time that Walsh has made allegations against Armstrong and according to the report on velonews, Lance has already sent Walsh a letter threatening legal action if doping allegations are made in the book.

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