Lance Armstrong to Retire
Ending months of speculation, Lance Armstrong today announced to the world that July 24th 2005 will be his last day as a professional cyclist.
The Texan will hang up his wheels one day after the Tour de France finishes, a race he again hops to win, taking his tally to a staggering seven consecutive wins.
At the press conference in Georgia 33 year old Armstrong said, ?I have decided that the Tour de France will be my last race as a professional cyclist. July 24 will be my last one after 14 years in the professional peloton. Having said that, I'm fully committed to winning a seventh Tour.?
"I have thought a lot about it, I have gone back and forth. My time has come but I will definitely have the itch every now and again. My children are my biggest supporters but at the same time they are the ones who told me it's time to come home...I am 100 percent committed and the decision is final.?
Armstrong continued by thanking those who had helped him. He began by thanking his children. He said "...the biggest inspiration in my life now and the biggest inspiration to this decision is my children. They are the ones who make it easier to suffer, but they are the ones who have who have told me that it's time to come home." Armstrong thanked his mother, "...a great force that I have learned a lot from."
Armstrong remembered the "sponsors and partners we have had along the years, obviously now Discovery Communications." He thanked John Hendrix, Judith McHale, and Billy Campbell by name and affirmed that his relationship with Discovery will continue after his retirement.
The six-time Tour de France winner also thanked team director Johan Bruyneel, "who in my view has been the premier sports director of all time. He's directed six Tours and won six, and I don't know anyone else that can claim that record. This is the guy that came along and believed in me in 1998, and said that you could do it, and this is how you're going to do it, and let's go for it. And along the way he helped shape and mold the team and put together a group of people--not just riders but staff and sponsors and advisors that made all of this a reality. With Johan, and with my team mates over the years--all of them, some are still on the team and some are not--they have all been key to six Tours and even the other races that lead up to the Tours. So I can't thank them enough."
Armstrong concluded by thanking his companion Sheryl Crow and the community of cancer survivors. "For somebody who's the Queen of Rock & Roll," he said to Crow, "you sure have been a great cycling fan, cycling team mate, and a great partner." He called cancer survivors "a team that has been very powerful, and I think if you look at certain times in my life I've relied on a special force, and I think the force of a team like that is incredibly powerful. So to have them to fall back on, and to know that not only do they inspire me, but that I can hopefully inspire them. I hope to give them one more Tour de France."
Then, Armstrong entertained questions from the press. He stated that the Tour of Georgia will be his last race in the United States. His health is good, although his racing has been indifferent, and that he will ride the Tour de France to win. His contract with Discovery Channel is for more than two years, and riding this year's Tour will fulfill a contractual obligation. And yes, he intends to ride amateur events occasionally "to get my competitive fix."
Armstrong also told our reporter that "After I made the decision to ride the Tour, I started to think about it. I had period of one month without my kids in Texas, and that was much harder than before. Last year there was a two month period and then a three month one, but this year was something that I've never experienced. They're at an age where they change daily, hourly, and to be away from them for one month is gruelling...It's time for me to not miss key moments in their lives."
Following his retirement, Armstrong will continue to work with both the Discovery Channel and also the team. Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com to follow Armstrong in his quest for a 7th Tour de France victory this July.