Team says Giro also still a possibility

Updated: March 24, 2009, 1:59 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PALENCIA, Spain -- Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel is confident that Lance Armstrong's broken collarbone will not prevent him from taking part in the Tour de France or the Giro d'Italia.

"I don't think this changes anything for the Tour de France," Bruyneel said Tuesday. "A broken collarbone in the month of March does not at all compromise the start of the Tour de France or your performance in the Tour de France."

The Tour de France runs July 4-26.

Armstrong, 37, also had planned to ride in the Giro, which runs from May 9 to May 31.

Bruyneel said the team was also "not ruling out the Giro at all. I think it's perfectly possible."

"Being at the start of the Giro is no problem," Bruyneel said. "But he has to have at least a decent level to be in the race and to compete at a certain level. ... Now it's almost clear that he's not going to be able to be a contender but we just have to change our focus and try to do the Giro, if he can get to the start, with another mentality."

Armstrong fractured his collarbone Monday after crashing in the first stage of the Vuelta of Castilla and Leon race in northern Spain. The seven-time Tour de France champion stayed in Bruyneel's house in Madrid on Monday night before flying out Tuesday to Austin, Texas, where Armstrong has lived for many years.

Armstrong's spokesman, Mark Higgins, told ESPN.com on Monday that the surgery would "most likely" take place in Austin.

"Sitting in the airport getting ready to fly home. Layover in NYC then ATX!" Armstrong wrote on his Twitter feed.

Armstrong has never raced in the Giro before, but included it in his itinerary this time as he emerges from 3½ years of retirement, with his focus on competing in the Tour de France.

"We're used to watching Armstrong pull off miracles, so we're still hoping he can do one more," Giro director Angelo Zomegnan told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Armstrong inspected a key individual time trial for the Giro -- a 38.34-mile race against the clock in the coastline area known as Cinque Terre, scheduled for Stage 12 on May 21.

Armstrong was riding in only his second race in Europe since coming out of retirement. Last week, he finished 125th in the Milan-San Remo cycling classic, more than eight minutes behind winner Mark Cavendish.

"He was very disappointed. Spirits were not high yesterday, I have to say, but that's logical," Bruyneel said. "He has to consider himself lucky that it's not worse.

"From all the bones you have in your body, if you have to break one, I would choose the collarbone because it's the one that heals the fastest. It's not a leg or a knee or a foot or a hip, which would mean several weeks or months without any activity."

Armstrong crashed after a pileup of riders about 12.5 miles from the finish of the first stage of the Castilla and Leon race. Bruyneel said Armstrong hit the ground hard with his head, breaking his helmet.

Armstrong was riding alongside Astana teammate Alberto Contador for the first time. Contador won the Tour de France in 2007, two years after Armstrong won the last of his seven straight titles.

"It's a shame to lose Lance in this way because he was eager to get some good preparation in this race, " Contador said. "It was a good opportunity for us to work together in a race. The only thing I can do is to give him my best and hope he recovers as soon as possible to race in the Giro."

Information from ESPN.com's Bonnie D. Ford and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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