The Scene is Set for Lance Armstrong's Last Ride

News & Results

01/22/2011| 0 comments
by AP and Roadcycling.com
Lance Armstrong (Team RadioShack). Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Lance Armstrong (Team RadioShack). Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

The Scene is Set for Lance Armstrong's Last Ride

The scene is set for Lance Armstrong's final ride. Lance Armstrong will hoist himself into the saddle on Sunday for the last stage of his final cycle race outside the United States, with no hope of winning the Tour Down Under and with emotions as inscrutable as at any time in his career.

The scene is set for Lance Armstrong's final ride. Lance Armstrong will hoist himself into the saddle on Sunday for the last stage of his final cycle race outside the United States, with no hope of winning the Tour Down Under and with emotions as inscrutable as at any time in his career.

Lance Armstrong will hoist himself into the saddle on Sunday for the last stage of his final cycle race outside the United States, with no hope of winning the Tour Down Under and with emotions as inscrutable as at any time in his career.

If Armstrong feels any pangs of nostalgia or regret that this portion of his career is ending, he is unlikely to reveal it. His public persona as the final curtain prepares to fall is warmer than in the past but still controlled.

The seven-time Tour de France winner said before this farewell race began that he expected to feel no particular emotions when this substantial part of his career draws to a close. He will climb off his bike at the end of the 56-mile street circuit in downtown Adelaide and, he says, he will walk away, perhaps a little more sore and weary at 39 than as a young man, but without remorse.

He enters an uncertain future. Exactly how his life and career will pan out from here is not yet decided: he has hinted at a return to triathlons and mountain biking events, which were his first love before he became the world's most celebrated road cyclist.

And the questions that have dogged his career remain as a vague shadow even over this farewell. He has never tested positive to a banned substance, but even in the past week as he rode the undulating roads of South Australia state, a report in Sports Illustrated examined allegations new and old of his connection with doping.

He has refused to discuss those reports, though via his Twitter feed, on which he heavily relies to communicate with fans, he tweeted Friday that he expected to be vindicated when the U.S. anti-doping agency studied the substance of the Sports Illustrated report.

Armstrong takes some solace that his popularity with fans - many of whom have been inspired by his recovery from testicular cancer and others who admire his dedicated efforts to support the fight against that disease - is largely unmoved by rumor or speculation.

He calls it the Starbucks index, the difference between the public's reaction to him and the efforts of others in the media or within cycling to connect his achievements with the taint of doping. Armstrong says that if he's standing in line at Starbucks it's unlikely the person next in line will confront him and call him a drug cheat. More likely, he says, the fan would shake his hand and seek his autograph.

And Armstrong knows his fans.

In Australia, on his third visit in three years, he remains immensely popular and respected.

Fans clamor for his signature at the start and finish lines of every stage and line the

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