Armstrong climbing into peak condition

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The Independent Online

As he prepares to attempt a third consecutive Tour de France victory, Lance Armstrong demolished the opposition in a rare mountain time trial in the seventh stage of the Tour of Switzerland yesterday to reclaim the yellow jersey.

The 29-year-old Texan, who also won the Prologue time trial last week, proved he is close to peak form ahead of the Tour de France next month, smoothly taking the 15.5mile mountain stage from Sion to Crans Montana in 47min 18sec, almost a minute and a half ahead of his nearest rivals.

Gilberto Simoni, the winner of the recent Giro d'Italia, was runner-up, while Armstrong's US Postal Service team-mate Tyler Hamilton crossed third.

Armstrong's performance pushed him into the lead in the overall standings, over a minute ahead of Simoni. Italy's Wladimir Belli dropped from first to third, a further 32 seconds behind.

* The Tour de France organisers yesterday said they will ban any rider found guilty of doping in the ongoing Italian investigation following raids on the team hotels during the final stages of the Giro d'Italia.

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