Media from around the world gathered in Augusta, GA today to hear a
long-awaited announcement from Lance Armstrong. The six-time Tour de
France winner has hinted for months that he would be announcing his upcoming
retirement after the 2005 Tour, and he did just that at the afternoon's press
Photo (c) Celia Cole.
"I will cut right to the chase and say that after a lot of thought in
considering the season and races I was going to do this year and deciding to
focus on the Tour, at the same time I've decided that the Tour de France will be
my last race as a professional cyclist. So, July 24th will be the last one
after fourteen years in the professional peloton; it will be the last one, win
or lose. Having said that, I'm fully committed to winning a seventh Tour.
"There are a few people I'd like to thank, that have been very helpful along the
way. First and foremost the biggest inspiration in my life now and the
biggest inspiration in this decision are my children. They are the ones
that make it easier to suffer but they are also the ones that tell me that it's
time to come home, so without them none of this would be possible. Second
is my mother. She's been a great force in my life, a very influential,
very powerful, very wise woman.
"All the many, many sponsors we've had over
the years and obviously Discovery Communications, especially Billy Campbell, who
came along and picked up our program last year and believed in our sport.
He believed in our team, believed in the Tour de France, believed in cycling.
I can't thank them enough. Obviously the relationship with Discovery will
continue for years to come. I'm excited to be part of the program there,
helping Billy, helping all of the Discovery Networks to do different things,
sort of parlay success on the bike into something else.
Photo (c) Celia Cole.
"Also I'd like to
thank this guy right here, Johan Bruyneel, who has been in my view, well
arguably I guess in anyone's view, he has to be the greatest sport's director of
all time. He's directed six Tours and won six Tours. I don't
know that anyone else can claim that record. This is the guy who came
along and believed in me in 1998 and said "You can do it, and here's how you're
going to do it. Let's go for it." Along the way he helped shape and
mold the team and put together a group of people, not just riders, but staff,
sponsors, and advisors that helped make this all a reality. Without Johan,
without my teammates over the years, all of them, some are still on the team and
some are not, but they've all been key to six Tours and any of the other races
that lead up to the Tour. I can't thank them enough.
been an amazing woman. For someone who's the Queen of Rock and Roll, you
sure have been a great cycling fan, cycling teammate and a great partner.
I guess last are my one other team, this team of 10 million cancer survivors
around the country that have been very powerful and I think that in certain
times in my life I have relied on a special force and I think the force of a
team like that is incredible, so to have them to fall back on, to know that not
only do they inspire me but I can inspire them, I hope to give them one more
Tour de France."