PARIS — Lance Armstrong considers the 2010 Tour de France course "tough" because of the cobblestones sections and three punishing summit finishes in the Pyrenees.
The seven-time Tour champion attended the unveiling of the route and had lunch with French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday.
He also said more cyclists will have a chance to win thanks to the elimination of the team time trial.
"I think it will be much more open than last year because the TTT really eliminated some people last year and you won't have that again," Armstrong said. "Whereas this year you had three or four guys who could win the Tour, this year you'll go into the tough sections with 10 guys."
Armstrong finished third at this year's Tour after an intense rivalry with Astana teammate Alberto Contador, the eventual winner.
The 38-year-old Texan said the inclusion of some of the famous cobblestone sections that make up the Paris-Roubaix classic will be especially destabilizing in the early stages.
"I think the first week is potentially complicating for guys, with the wind and the mix of the Ardennes and also the cobblestones," Armstrong said. "It's a very untraditional start to a Tour. It's going to be a hard Tour."
The course will include a total of 23 mountain passes in the Alps, Pyrenees, Jura and Massif Central, three more than the last race.
The first complication for the peloton will come in the third stage on July 6. Riders will speed over seven cobblestone sectors for a total of 8.2 miles. The last time Tour riders faced that dangerous task was in 2004.
Armstrong said he'll consider the cobblestones in deciding which races to include in his pre-Tour preparations. The Tour of Flanders and Liege-Bastogne-Liege in Belgium are races he is contemplating.
"I think you have to plan your season according to what you see here, too," Armstrong said. "I think even a race like the Tour of Flanders is interesting now because you don't want your only cobblestone experience to be the day you show up here. You need to practice that so we'll build the season around this, too."
The race organizers' decision to stage only a single individual time trial, a 32-mile race through the Bordeaux vineyards in the penultimate stage, could work in the American's favor.
"Based on my time trials this year, I have to be glad there's less," said Armstrong, who finished 90 seconds behind Contador in last year's time trial in Annecy, and 22 seconds behind the Spaniard in the shorter time trial at the race's start in Monaco.
"That last TT is 51K and the day before Paris is going to be decisive," he said.
Armstrong, who came back to competition this year following a 3 1/2-year retirement, said Contador, Luxembourg brothers Andy and Frank Schleck and British rider Bradley Wiggins will be his toughest rivals next year.
Armstrong said he is still considering whether to compete in the Tour of California or the Giro d'Italia, races that conflict on the calendar in May.
"I still don't know. There's more things that factor in there, too, RadioShack being an American company and California obviously being an American race," Armstrong said, referring to his new team.
One race that likely won't figure in Armstrong's Tour preparations is the Milan-San Remo. He used the spring classic to stage his comeback to European racing this year, finishing 125th.
"I think I have another appointment that day," Armstrong said, joking. "A doctor's appointment or something, a dentist appointment."