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Armstrong pulls out

Published:Thursday | April 8, 2010 | 12:00 AM

ANGERS, France (AP):

Lance Armstrong has pulled out of the Circuit de la Sarthe race in western France before the second day due to illness, Team RadioShack said yesterday.

The seven-time Tour de France champion, who was looking forward to the afternoon time trial, was suffering from diarrhoea, vomiting and a fever, spokesman Philippe Maertens said.

"It's really bad, believe me," Maertens said by phone.

The team released a statement yesterday saying Armstrong had come down with a "viral intestinal infection" after the first stage on Tuesday.

"He will return to the US as soon as his condition allows," the statement said.

Overnight, Armstrong wrote on his Twitter page: "Sicker than a dog now. This sucks."

Stomach bug

The American, who was riding in the four-day Sarthe race as part of his preparation for the Tour de France in July, had previously tweeted that many of his eight teammates who rode in Sunday's Tour of Flanders had caught "a stomach bug".

The race was Armstrong's first competition in mainland France this year and he was 29th overall after the first stage on Tuesday, won by Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez.

"Lance was really keen on performing well, especially in the time trial of Wednesday afternoon," said Team RadioShack sporting director Alain Gallopin in the statement. He said Armstrong showed improvement at the Tour of Flanders.

Team RadioShack announced on Tuesday that Armstrong would not compete as previously planned in the Amstel Gold race on April 18, and he will return to the United States after the Sarthe race.

Maertens said Armstrong wanted to spend time with his family and felt fit enough to prepare at home. He plans to ride in the Tour of California in May before returning to Europe for the Dauphine Libere or the Tour of Switzerland in June.