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Lance finishes third in Tour tuneup

LUXEMBOURG -- Italian Matteo Carrara won the Tour of Luxembourg, with Lance Armstrong finishing third Sunday.

The fourth and last stage of the race was won by Spaniard Gorka Izaguirre in a sprint shortened by torrential rain.

Carrara claimed his first major win, beating 2009 winner Frank Schleck of Luxembourg.

"I'm so happy. It's a beautiful victory, my best victory," the 31-year-old Carrara said.

Armstrong was competing as part of his preparations for the Tour de France.

The 38-year-old Texan, who crashed last month at the Tour of California, next races at the Tour of Switzerland from June 12-20.

Seven-time Tour de France champion Armstrong didn't take any risk.

"I just wanted to avoid issues, or problems, or crashes, or accident," Armstrong said. "I think we have to make a good progression from here, to Switzerland and the Tour."

Armstrong was loudly cheered by local fans after the race but he got involved in an exchange with one man who called him a "liar" and a "cheat".

The American, who has had to put up with doping allegations for much of his career despite never having failed a test and always denied taking banned substances, jumped on the barrier separating his bus from the fans.

"Why don't you come and tell this to my face," Armstrong said. The man did not respond, and moved away shortly afterwards.

Armstrong, who won the race in 1998 when he came back from cancer, started the Luxembourg event with a solid performance in Wednesday's prologue before losing ground in the second stage when Carrara and defending champion Frank Schleck attacked in the last climb. Schleck finished second overall, one second behind Carrara.

"Any time you can win a race, or be on the podium during your preparations, it's important," Armstrong said. "I wouldn't have thought I would ride so strong this week. It's been a good four days. I felt strong."

His manager at team RadioShack Johan Bruyneel said competing in Luxembourg will have been very helpful.

"I think it was a very good choice to race here because the average level was very good," Bruyneel said. "This race was fast. And with all those little climbs, it was perfect to prepare for the Tour of Switzerland where the climbs will be longer and harder."