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NEW ROLE FOR ARMSTRONG: SUPPORT RIDER

CYCLING

MORZINE, France - On this first 2010 Tour de France rest day, Lance Armstrong rode a historic Alps climb as a training trip.

Armstrong, 38, was working out his kinks, bumps and bruises - and maybe his wounded pride.

His job for the next two weeks in his final Tour de France is an unexpected one: He will be a helper for RadioShack teammate Levi Leipheimer.

"Lance will always be the leader of the team," Leipheimer said. "He won this race seven times; he's brought so much to cycling."

But Leipheimer, 37, is the one with reasonable hopes at the podium; he's 2 minutes, 14 seconds behind leader Cadel Evans of Australia going into today's 127-mile ninth stage and is eighth overall.

Armstrong's overall chances disappeared for good Sunday in a crash in a roundabout just as the peloton was increasing speed up the second-to-last climb of Stage 8.

"Obviously the Tour's finished for me," Armstrong said after Sunday's stage.

Tour de France

Monday: Rest day

Overall leader: Cadel Evans, Australia

Today: Ninth stage, 127.1 miles, Morzine-Avoriaz to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne

TV: 7 a.m., Versus

nhl

Blackhawks key in on keeping defenseman

The Blackhawks, who have lost seven players since winning the Stanley Cup a month ago, said they plan to keep restricted free agent defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, 23. Hjalmarsson earned $660,000 last season.

CANUCKS: Former Lightning defenseman Shane O'Brien re-signed to a one-year, $1.6 million contract.

DUCKS: Veteran left wing Josh Green, who spent last season in the Swedish Elite League, signed a one-year deal.

ET CETERA

Autos: The King County (Wash.) medical examiner said an NHRA driver who crashed after crossing the finish line died of severe injuries to his head, neck and torso. Mark Niver, 60, of Phoenix was killed Sunday at the Northwest Nationals in Kent, Wash.

TENNIS:Serena Williams will miss the World TeamTennis season after cutting her foot late last week. She was to have played four matches for Washington. ... Andreas Vinciguerra set up an all-Swedish second-round match with top seed Robin Soderling after defeating Daniel Brands 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (5-7), 6-4 at the Swedish Open in Bastad.

Times wires

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