Tour de France: Armstrong ready for Alpine challenge

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Six-time winner Lance Armstrong, who lost the Tour de France yellow jersey on Sunday, has called on his team to prepare for three tough days in the Alps.
The riders have a rest day on Monday before the Tour’s first big climbs begin in Tuesday’s 10th stage.

The route from Grenoble to the ski resort of Courcheval features two Category One climbs.

Armstrong is hoping the rest day will help to rally his Discovery Channel team, who have been found wanting in the opening stages of the 2005 tour.

The American was left to fight alone in Saturday’s eighth stage after his team-mates fell away on a modest climb.

They performed better on Sunday but Armstrong admitted that improvement was still required.

“The first priority is that the guys feel better and get their confidence back,” he said.

“We were better on Sunday than Saturday and that’s good going into a rest day.”

Team member George Hincapie said they had bounced back from their Saturday performance.

“It was just a bad day, anyone can have one, but we’re back pulling together with one target — the yellow jersey on July 24,” he said.

Discovery Channel chief Johan Bruyneel said: “We got back to our best (Sunday) and that’s good for our confidence.

“We had a team meeting after Saturday but there was no shouting, we just wanted to find out what had happened. We were all very unhappy.”