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Armstrong Edges Towards Overall Lead at Tour de France - 2003-07-12

Four-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong of the United States is on the verge of taking the overall lead in the three-week cycling event.

The world's premier cycling race moves Saturday to a grueling series of climbs in the French Alps after an opening week of sprint racing on the flat terrain of northern and eastern France.

While many of the 195 cyclists dread the seven mountain stages, Armstrong generally makes his move in such conditions.

Today's seventh stage is the longest in the 20-stage race, covering 230.5 kilometers from Lyon to the ski resort of Morzine-Avoriaz. The stage features two ascents of nearly 1200 meters, which Armstrong described Friday as "a medium mountain day, not a monumental day."

Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service team-mates hold the top nine places in the Tour going into Saturday's stage. Armstrong himself is in second place, one second behind Victor Hugo Pena, the first Colombian ever to wear the yellow jersey that goes to the Tour leader.

Going into the Alps, Pena says he is going to do his job as a team-mate to make sure Armstrong wins his fifth straight Tour de France.