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Armstrong heckled at end of fourth stgae

Seven-time champion Lance Armstrong was happy to finally get a crash-free stage under his belt as the Tour de France headed gradually towards the Alps on Wednesday.

other Updated: Jul 08, 2010 02:22 IST

Seven-time champion Lance Armstrong was happy to finally get a crash-free stage under his belt as the Tour de France headed gradually towards the Alps on Wednesday.

However the 38-year-old American cut his media duties short at the RadioShack team bus moments after an unidentified heckler started shouting insults at the American.

In May at the Tour of Luxembourg Armstrong confronted a heckler who levelled insults which suggested the American was a drugs cheat.

And on Wednesday an unidentified man again shouted "cheat" and "dopehead" several times before Armstrong departed.

Before then the American, who lost precious time to his yellow jersey rivals on the cobblestones of stage three on Tuesday, admitted he was happy to have an almost normal stage on the bike.

"I didn't want to have a third day in a row of bad luck, so ... (it's) nice that everybody stayed up (on their bikes)," said Armstrong, who sits in 18th place overall at 2min 30sec behind race leader Fabian Cancellara and 1:51 behind the best-placed favourite, Australian Cadel Evans.

Asked what his strategy would likely be ahead of three days in the Alps, including two summit finishes, beginning Saturday the American said there was still plenty of scope for him to close his deficit.

"I think now you just got to pick up a few guys and focus on them... it's easy to look at the GC (general classification) and say 'gosh, there's 17 guys ahead of you'.

"But for the most part the vast majority of them won't be there (at the end)."

Armstrong has recently become a target for former teammate Floyd Landis, who claimed Armstrong and other members of their former team, US Postal, were involved in systematic doping.

Armstrong, who has never tested positive, has categorically denied the claims.