Lance Armstrong has used the social networking website Twitter to announce that this year’s Tour de France will be his final participation in the race that he dominated between 1999 and 2005, when he won it seven times in succession after returning to the sport following his successful battle against cancer.
The Team RadioShack rider’s decision also means that in all probability this will be his final season in the saddle, although there’s no word yet on his plans after this year’s race ends in Paris in a little over three weeks’ time.
In a message on Twitter yesterday evening, Armstrong said “And yes, this will be final Tour de France. It's been a great ride. Looking forward to three great weeks," later adding "Doh, sorry, meant "my" final Tour."
The 38-year-old Texan returned to the sport with Team Astana last year after a three-year absence with the stated aim of raising the profile of his Livestrong cancer charity, and as well as the Tour de France he rode the Giro d’Italia, something he never did in the days when his season was built around the French Grand Tour.
Following a campaign in which the divisions in the Astana squad were all too apparent, Armstrong finished third on the podium in Paris behind team-mate – although the pair had dropped any pretence of working alongside each other – Alberto Contador, and shortly before the end of the race announced the creation of Team RadioShack with then Astana Team Manager Johan Bruyneel, the pair also eventually recruiting a number of the Kazakh outfit’s riders for their new venture.
Earlier this year, Armstrong had intimated that he was thinking about taking part in next year’s edition of the Tour de France, but his latest announcement draws a line under a career that besides his unprecedented Tour de France success brought him the 1993 World Road Race title, plus victories in races including the Flèche Wallonne, the Tour of Switzerland and the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré twice, as well as a bronze medal in the Time Trial at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Earlier this month, Armstrong finished second in the Tour de Switzerland behind Fränk Schleck of Team Saxo Bank, suggesting that he is moving into some decent form ahead of what will now be his final Tour de France. That performance follows a start to the season that has been disrupted by illness and injury, not to mention the accusations made last month by Floyd Landis that Armstrong had been involved in doping when the pair rode for the United States Postal Service team, allegations that the Texan has flatly denied.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.