French legal authorities have announced imminent plans to close an unrelated investigation into Armstrong and his team that has stagnated for the better part of two years. Frustrated by the fact that the inquiry formally remains open, Armstrong recently posted his feelings on his Web site.
"I consider this issue dead," he wrote. "It is without merit and I will no longer pay attention to it. My steadfast focus is on the upcoming Tour de France."
Congenitally restless, Armstrong sometimes marvels at the fact that he has held the same job this long.
"He loves what he does," said Johan Bruyneel, the no-nonsense former professional rider from Belgium who has guided the Armstrong-led Postal Service team to three consecutive titles. "That's what it takes if you're at such a high level and under pressure and constantly planning commitments."
Armstrong agreed, saying the actual sensation of riding is the same despite of the upheaval in his lifestyle.
"If you break it all down, and said, 'OK here's the guy, here's the bike, does he like it, does he feel the same on it, does he suffer the same on it,' that's all the same," said Armstrong, who would become the fifth man to win four or more Tours if he prevails this month.
"The days that I'm on the bike are like when I was 13," he added, recalling rides with his boyhood friend and current teammate Chann McRae. "We run fewer red lights, but it's the same. We used to run all the red lights.
"If you want to draw a graph, there's been no decline in my interest or my motivation or my love for the bike or training. I can't think of any reason to stop right now."
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*--* The Facts 2002 Tour de France: * 21 Teams with nine riders each * The Tour runs for three weeks--beginning Saturday--and consists of 20 stages plus a prologue. Among the stages, there will be two individual time trials and a team trial THE JERSEYS * Yellow--General Time Classification (best overall time) * Polka-Dot--Best Climber Classification (points earned at the tops of climbs) * Green--General Points Classification (points earned for sprints) * White--Best Young Rider awarded to the best rider 25 and under THE STAGES Prologue: 4 miles, Saturday Luxembourg Stage 1: 121.2 miles, Sunday Luxembourg--Luxembourg Stage 2: 108.7 miles, Monday Luxembourg--Sarrebruck Stage 3: 115 miles, Tuesday Metz--Reims Stage 4: 42.3 miles, Wednesday (Team Time Trial) Epernay--Chateau-Thierry Stage 5: 123 miles, July 11 Soissons--Rouen Stage 6: 123 miles, July 12 Forges-les-Eaux--Alencon Stage 7: 107.5 miles, July 13 Bagnoles-de-l'Orne--Avranches Stage 8: 133 miles, July 14 St Martin de Landelles--Plouay Stage 9: 34.2 miles, July 15 (Individual Time Trial) Lanester--Lorient Rest Day in Bordeaux, July 16 Stage 10: 91.3 miles, July 17 Bazas--Pau Stage 11: 98.2 miles, July 18 Pau--La Mongie Stage 12: 123 miles, July 19 Lannemezan--Plateau de Beille Stage 13: 103.1 miles, July 20 Lavelanet--Beziers Stage 14: 136.7 miles, July 21 Lodeve--Le Mont Ventoux Rest Day in Vaucluse, July 22 Stage 15: 140.4 miles, July 23 Vaison-la-Romaine--Les-Deux-Alpes Stage 16: 111.2 miles, July 24 Les-Deux-Alpes--La Plagne Stage 17: 87.6 miles, July 25 Aime--Cluses Stage 18: 111.8 miles, July 26 Cluses--Bourg-en-Bresse Stage 19: 32.6 miles, July 27 Regnie-Durette--Macon Stage 20: 90.1 miles, July 28 Melun--Paris-Champs-Elysees