AFP - US cyclist Lance Armstrong Sunday won the Nevada City Classic, a modest one-day race set in the hills of northern California, to continue his build-up to the Tour de France.
More than 15,000 fans turned out for the race, run on a 1.7km loop in the historic gold mining town of Nevada City, and were treated to the sight of seven-time Tour de France champion Armstrong claiming his first race victory since coming out of retirement in January after an absence of three and a half years.
Armstrong, Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer and Bissell's Ben Jacques-Maynes formed a three-man breakway that took a lead of more than two minutes and finally lapped the field.
With six laps to go on the tough, seven-turn course Armstrong was on his own, and the American, wearing the jersey of his Livestrong foundation rather than Astana colors, crossed the line with his hands raised in triumph. Jacques-Maynes finished second and Leipheimer third.
Armstrong only committed to the Nevada City Classic five days prior to the race.
Armstrong, 37, launched his comeback in the Tour Down Under in Australia in January, finishing 29th.
He broke his collarbone in a spill in the Tour of Castilla and Leon in central Spain in March, returned to the States for surgery and then went back to Europe and finished 12th in the Giro d'Italia last month.
On June 5 he welcomed the birth of his fourth child, son Max.
"What a great Nevada City Classic," Armstrong enthused on the social networking site Twitter. "I managed to get the win, Levi Leipheimer was 3rd. HARD race. The crowds? Electric..."
Armstrong's next race is the Tour de France, which starts July 4 in Monaco.