Lance Armstrong's build-up to the Tour de France has been interrupted after he was concussed in a fall during practice in the Alps. The American, who crashed as he was practising for the defence of his title, is resting at home in Nice and will miss next week's Midi Libre.
Armstrong lost control on gravel on a fast descent and hit his head on a rock when he crashed. He spent a night in Lourdes hospital under observation before going home.
His US Postal team's sporting director, Johan Bruyneel, was quoted by L'Equipe as saying: "Frankly, I think his season could have ended there. He was very lucky." Bruyneel said he did not know when Armstrong would resume training. His next scheduled race is the Dauphine LibÃ¿re, starting on 4 June.
The Italian Marco Pantani, who was kicked out of the 1999 Giro d'Italia after failing a blood test, is considering riding in this year's race, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.
The Italian sports daily reported that Pantani was "training like a madman". But a spokeswoman for Pantani's Mercatone Uno team said yesterday that as things stood, the former Tour de France and Giro winner would not be in Saturday's starting line-up outside St Peter's Basilica.
"It's just a rumour that comes from fans who have seen him training and want to see their dreams come true," the spokeswoman said.