Armstrong "excited" about Obama

Cycling legend looks also chats with Australian PM

Lance Armstrong said Tuesday he was excited about the inauguration of US president elect Barack Obama.

Launching his comeback from retirement here at the Tour Down Under, Armstrong was given a surprise on Tuesday when Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd showed up at the race.

Armstrong, who retired after his seventh consecutive Tour de France win in 2005, was met by the country's premier after the first stage of the race which finished in nearby Mawson Lakes.

Cancer survivor Armstrong, 37, has been promoting the first stage of a global awareness campaign about the disease and met with top officials and cancer specialists on Monday.

However he admitted it had been a special honour to meet the country's prime minister, with whom he talked about the imminent inauguration of Obama.

"We've never met, it's an honour for me and the race that he came," said Armstrong. "We talked about the inauguration, and the fight against cancer."   

Armstrong's return to cycling, and his first appearance at the Tour Down Under, has attracted huge interest in the country, the proof being that it’s the first time the country's premier has graced the race with his presence.

Formerly close to American president George W. Bush, Armstrong has recently said he is keen to see how Obama - America's first black president - will take the country forward.

But the cycling icon admitted he might have to watch Tuesday's inauguration, scheduled for 1700 GMT, early Wednesday morning on the internet site YouTube.

"I'm at the Tour Down Under, I gotta sleep," said the American, who said he was excited about plans to watch proceedings.

"I can wake up in the morning and watch the whole thing. I'm excited, I think everyone's excited. He's polling 80 percent approval ratings, I wish I could poll 80 percent."

(c) AFP 2009

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