Cycling: Armstrong steps up a gear for 'suffer-fest'

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The Independent Online

Lance Armstrong gave his comeback to professional cycling new credibility when he took a prominent role in the second stage of the Tour Down Under yesterday.

Armstrong was always near the front of the peleton, joined in two attacks in the late uphill stages of the 145-kilometre (90-mile) stage and finished 45th of 133 riders, 13 seconds behind the Australian stage winner Allan Davis.

"I feel OK, but it was very hard," said Armstrong, the seven-times Tour de France winner who is making his return to cycling after three years in retirement. "Attacking on the hills wasn't the smartest thing to do. It's going to take a while to adapt to race speed and today proved that. The long drags uphill were never my long suit and when you get into the race and it's fast and guys are strong it's a suffer-fest. But I like to suffer."

Armstrong, 37, took part in an 11-rider breakaway as the stage neared an uphill finish in front of more than 10,000 fans at Stirling, 30 minutes outside the state capital Adelaide. He then attacked again in a two-man breakaway with the Australian Jack Bobridge, 18 years his junior. Armstrong lies 68th overall, 23 seconds behind the leaders with four stages remaining.