Defending champion Frank Schleck won a two-man sprint in front of his home crowd to edge Italian Matteo Carrara in the second stage of the five-day Tour ofLuxembourg, with Lance Armstrong retaining third in the overall standings on Friday.
Carrara took the race leader's jersey following the queen stage of the race, a 202.7-kilometer trek between Schifflange and Differdange. He leads Schleck by one second.
Armstrong crossed the line in sixth position and kept his third place overall, 30 seconds behind Carrara.
The ride through the Luxembourg countryside featured seven short but demanding climbs, including three 2.2-kilometer ascents in the last 27 kilometers.
The 38-year-old Armstrong spent much of the day up front in the main pack. He was cheered by his girlfriend and kids at the finish line, but didn't speak to reporters.
The American, who is riding in the minor five-day race as part of his preparations for the Tour de France, later said on his Twitter feed that his condition was improving.
Armstrong crashed last month in the Tour of California, where he hurt his elbow and received a cut under his left eye
"Hot, hilly, and hard circuits at the end," Armstrong said. "Legs coming around. Frank and Carrara were strong -- congrats 2 them."
Johan Bruyneel, boss of Armstrong's RadioShack team, was content with the cyclist's performance.
"We have to wait a bit more for results," Bruyneel said. "But Lance was feeling good and I'm happy with his performance."
Armstrong returned to competition last year following 3½ years of retirement, finishing third in the Tour. He will next ride in the Tour of Switzerland from June 12-20 before bidding for a record-breaking eighth win in the showcase July event. The Tour starts July 3 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
As temperatures reached 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), Armstrong didn't follow Schleck and Carrara when they attacked in the second of three loops around Differdange, in the Col de L'Europe. He finished in a group of five riders, 36 seconds back.
"It was a tactical race and when Schleck and Carrara jumped out of the pack they quickly took 20 seconds and the race was over," Bruyneel said.
Armstrong spoke at his bus in the morning before the start of the stage, saying he still has to decide whether he will ride for another year after the Tour.
"I have options. It's full schedule or there's nothing, full retirement," he said. "Or there's a hybrid: it could be a mix of the two as well."
Saturday's third stage is a 191.5-kilometer trek between Eschweiler and Diekirch. The race ends Sunday in Luxembourg.