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Originally published Wednesday, June 29, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Briefs: Armstrong studies crucial climbs in Tour de France

Lance Armstrong of the Discovery Channel team is ready to make a prediction for the last race...

Cycling

Armstrong seeks to be in peak form: Lance Armstrong of the Discovery Channel team is ready to make a prediction for the last race of his career.

"This year, the Tour will be won in the mountains," the 33-year-old Texan said.

Armstrong is aiming for his seventh consecutive Tour de France crown, and he has scouted the crucial climbs that await in the grueling, three-week trek. The event starts Saturday with an 11.8-mile time trial.

In previous years, Armstrong left his rivals behind in the mountains. He spoke to The Associated Press by telephone Monday night after what he called the last long training ride of his career — six hours on roads around Nice, France.

"I feel strong on the bike," said Armstrong, adding that he has lost more than 3 pounds since he placed fourth in the Dauphine Libere race in France on June 12.

"I feel a lot better than I did in the Dauphine," he said. "I'm recovering well."

Simoni to skip Tour: Lampre-Caffita rider Gilberto Simoni of Italy will skip the Tour de France because he hasn't recovered from last month's Giro d'Italia, where he finished second.

"It's clear that I have muscular fatigue," he said. "Going to France would have been useless. It would have been a disaster for me."

College football

Shula gets extension: Alabama coach Mike Shula received a one-year contract extension but didn't get a raise to his $900,000 salary.

Shula, 40, has led Alabama to 4-9 and 6-6 records in his first two seasons after taking over a program reeling from NCAA sanctions and the offseason firing of Mike Price, former Washington State coach. Price coached Texas-El Paso last season.

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Shula's contract, which expires on Jan. 31, 2010, includes a base salary of $150,000 and a $750,000 talent fee.

College basketball

Bryce Drew joins father's staff at Valpo: Bryce Drew, a former NBA player, is returning to alma mater Valparaiso as an assistant to his father, coach Homer Drew.

Bryce Drew, waived by New Orleans in March 2004, played last season in Italy.

Boxing

Las Vegas woman loses: Yvonne Caples of Las Vegas lost a unanimous decision to Choi Eun Soon in a mini-flyweight bout in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Caples (7-9-2) is an English teacher who started boxing at the University of California.

Soccer

Argentina, Nigeria advance: Lionel Messi led Argentina past Brazil 2-1 and into the World Youth Championship final, setting up a title match against Nigeria on Saturday in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Nigeria beat Morocco 3-0 to reach the under-20 title game for the first time since it lost to Portugal in 1989. Argentina has won three of the last five tournaments.

Confederations Cup final is today: Brazil plays Argentina in the Confederations Cup final today in Frankfurt, Germany.

Brazil and Argentina are gaining momentum for next year's World Cup in Germany. Brazil won its fifth World Cup three years ago in Japan.

Glazer increases power: Malcolm Glazer told Manchester United's remaining shareholders he owned 98 percent of the English Premier League team and had the power to buy them out.

Also the owner of the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Glazer had already taken the club off the stock market and issued a statement saying he had passed the 97.6 percent threshold needed to make a compulsory purchase of all shares in the team.

Swimming

U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha: The 2008 U.S. Olympic team will be selected in Omaha, Neb., home of baseball's College World Series and now set to become the first city to host the trials in a temporary indoor pool. USA Swimming picked Omaha over St. Paul, Minn., and San Antonio.

Olympics

Rice lauds New York: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lauded New York as a global village of Olympic-sized dreams, joining civic officials at a sendoff rally promoting the city's bid to land the 2012 Summer Games.

New York is competing with Paris, London, Moscow and Madrid, with Paris regarded the front-runner. A decision by the International Olympic Committee will be announced July 6 in Singapore.

Track and field

Gatlin to race Powell: American Justin Gatlin, the Olympic 100-meter champion, and Jamaica's Asafa Powell, who set a world record of 9.77 seconds on June 14, will compete against each other July 22 at the Crystal Palace meet in London, organizers said.

Seattle Times news services

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