Armstrong confirms retirement, won’t be competing in Tour of California
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Armstrong confirms retirement, won’t be competing in Tour of California

by Conal Andrews at 7:29 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Career draws to a close for seven time Tour winner

Lance ArmstrongAlthough he had been expected to compete in the Amgen Tour of California and possibly the Quiznos Pro Challenge, Lance Armstrong has confirmed that he has hung up his wheels and is walking away from professional cycling.

The Texan last competed in the Santos Tour Down Under, placing 65th in the race, and has now indicated that it was his final event.

“I can't say I have any regrets. It's been an excellent ride. I really thought I was going to win another Tour,” he told AP. “Then I lined up like everybody else and wound up third.”

After being beaten by then-Astana team-mate Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck, he returned to the race last summer with high ambitions. He had finished third in the Tour de Luxembourg and second in the Tour de Suisse, and felt that he had a strong chance of donning yellow again. However it didn’t work out due to a number of reasons. “I have no regrets about last year. The crashes, the problems with the bike – those were things that were beyond my control.”

Armstrong’s retirement is likely due to the fact that he will be 40 this year, and can no longer race at the same level as before. Realising that another Tour win is impossible likely plays a big part in the decision of a rider who, since 1999, has based his entire season and his motivation around winning that event.

However he is also facing a federal investigation led by the FDA. He has been accused of using performance enhancing substances, and also of encouraging others to do so. Armstrong denies the claims and insists that he isn’t thinking about it.

“I can't control what goes on in regards to the investigation. That's why I hire people to help me with that,” he stated. “I try not to let it bother me and just keep rolling right along. I know what I know. I know what I do and I know what I did. That's not going to change.”

Notwithstanding the investigation, UCI President Pat McQuaid lauded his career. “His contribution to cycling has been enormous, from both the sporting point of view and his personality. All sports need global icons and he has become a global icon for cycling,” said McQuaid to AP. “The sport of cycling has a lot to be thankful for because of Lance Armstrong.”

While he’s got plenty of supporters, both from within cycling and also the cancer community, the publicity surrounding the investigation has had an effect on his public image. That could change if he was cleared, but he rules out any talk of a future in politics. At one point he was being tipped as a possible contender for the governor of Texas, and possibly even the presidency; all that has been ruled out.

“I don't think so,” he answered, when the issue was raised. "I get asked that question a lot. It's a job. It's probably many times a thankless job. ... If I were to run for any kind of office, it's impossible or very difficult to run right down the middle.

“I would have to immediately alienate half of our constituents: 'Wait a minute, we thought this guy was a Republican. Wait a minute, we thought he was a Democrat.' I think the effect there would be a negative effect for the foundation. For now, absolutely not on my radar.”

Armstrong is likely to focus his attention on the Livestrong foundation. He has also been quoted in the past as saying that he wants to take up triathlon and compete in the Ironman in Hawaii this autumn.

It remains to be seen if that is indeed the case but, as regards professional cycling, he has ridden his final race.


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