Sport in brief: 05/12/2008

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The Independent Online

Armstrong soft-pedals prospects

The seven-times Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, yesterday downplayed his chances of winning an eighth when he returns to the Tour next summer with the Astana team.

"Honestly, it's been too long out of competition and I haven't tested myself against others. If the Tour de France was today I don't have the power to win. But it's months away and I have time to prepare."

The 37-year-old American is at Astana's pre-season training camp, back on a bike after a three-year retirement. He said that he would not fight Alberto Contador, who will be trying to win a second Tour title next July, to be the team's leader. "I'm going to be very fair about it and respect [the team manager Johan Bruyneel's] orders and respect the team," Armstrong said. "If that means supporting Alberto or Levi [Leipheimer] or whoever it is, I'll respect them."

Armstrong won his seventh straight Tour title in 2005. "This reinauguration has been smooth," the Texan said. "It's been very easy. Although it's been three years, it feels it's just been an offseason."

Gales threaten Vendée fleet as Josse retains lead

Storms, with winds up to nearly 70 miles an hour, could affect some of the solo sailors in the Vendée Globe round-the-world race today if the predictions of 15th-placed Dee Caffari's weather adviser Mickey Broughton come to fruition. Sam Davies, one place ahead in Roxy, is already coping with gale-force blasts but the leaders are making fast time and have passed through the first ice avoidance gate. Seb Josse in BT still holds a slender lead from Yann Elies in Generali. Mike Golding in the eighth-placed Ecover has narrowed the gap on Josse to 75 miles, Brian Thompson is 13th in Bahrain Team Pindar and Steve White's Toe in the Water is 18th.

Toro put Sato on way to F1 return

Takuma Sato will be looking to move a step closer to a return to Formula One next week when he tests for the third time with Toro Rosso. The Faenza-based marque has yet to announce their driver line-up for next season, with Sato, Sébastien Bourdais and Sébastien Buemi all in the frame. Sato has been without a drive since the demise of Super Aguri in May.

UK Sport faces £50m challenge

UK Sport is to conduct a review aimed at increasing private-sector sponsors for Olympic athletes. The funding body will be responsible for raising £50m from sponsors after the Government's attempts to do so via the "Medal Hopes" scheme proved unsuccessful. According to a spokesman, UK Sport wants "to support all sports in their ambitions for 2012".

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