Amphion Les Bains: Lance Armstrong will be in top form for next month`s Tour de France despite the setbacks he has suffered in preparation, his arch-rival Alberto Contador told a news conference on Saturday.
The Spaniard, who won the Tour last year and in 2007, was speaking on the eve of the Dauphine Libere, his last stage race before the Tour start in Rotterdam on July 3.
Seven-times Tour winner Armstrong crashed in the Tour of California two weeks ago and was forced to change his schedule to take part in the Tour of Luxembourg in order to gain more race days.
"Lance crashed but he knows himself well. He has a lot of experience and knows what to do reach his optimal form in the Tour even if he has to change his schedule," Contador said.
The clear favourite to retain his Tour crown, the Spaniard also named Giro winner Ivan Basso of Italy as a leading contender for the title.
"Basso is a great rider and he will certainly be very strong in the Tour regardless of his Giro victory," Contador said.
As for his own preparation, Contador said he had not come to the Dauphine Libere to win.
"I`m in a build-up phase for the Tour, I feel better each day but I don`t have the physical level to go for first place here.
"The Dauphine is just a stage in my preparation for the Tour and it will be an opportunity to test a new bike in both time trials in the race," he added, citing compatriot Samuel Sanchez and Russian Denis Menchov among the favourites for the week-long race.