Armstrong to quit after this year's Tour?

In separate interviews with France's Le Figaro and Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspapers, Lance

In separate interviews with France's Le Figaro and Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspapers, Lance
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM In his 13th season racing as a European-based professional cyclist, have the rigours of life as a pro and, latterly, time away from his young children, all become too much for six-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong? In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro on Wednesday, Armstrong revealed that he would be making an important decision at a press conference on April 18 - the day before the start of the week-long Tour de Georgia in which he will race. "I must speak to the press, and intend to announce something important," Armstrong said. Almost certainly, April 18 will be the date that Armstrong will announce the future date of his retirement. "The most painful thing for me, when I'm in Europe, is being away from my children who are in Texas," Armstrong explained. "These repeated trips away, the distance, makes me want to say 'stop', to return to be near them." Armstrong said that he still has the same passion for cycling now as when he started, and that "that will never change". "Winning a seventh Tour is now my objective," he continued. "But seven will be just one more, whereas winning six was something magical. I'm not interested in leaving a profound mark on cycling." But it was in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport that Armstrong dropped the real bombshell and point blank suggested his desire to retire. "Four more months and then I'll shut up shop," he told the Italian sports newspaper while in Lucca, Italy, to meet with the presiding magistrate of the Italian investigation into Armstrong of allegations of 'private violence', 'intimidation of a witness' and 'sporting fraud' after his exchange with Italian pro Filippo Simeoni at last year's Tour de France. Like in the interview with Le Figaro, the American cited his family as one of the major reasons that could cause him to stop racing. "I miss my children, and all the pressure on me is costing me too much," he told La Gazzetta in the interview, published on Thursday. Whether this would mean an end, full-stop, to his cycling career is not clear. Armstrong has a two-year contract with his Discovery Channel team, and the recent announcement of a high-profile Tour of California - which will supplement the Tour de Georgia and the T-Mobile International in Philadelphia and a number of other rapidly growing American events - must surely appeal. The Tour of California has been pencilled in for February 2006, and a US-based programme for Armstrong next season would allow the Texan to fulfil his contract with Discovery and further raise the profile of road racing in the States, where a small stage race based around Carolina is also rumoured to be on the cards. At the same time - and perhaps most importantly - leaving behind the pressures of European-based racing would allow him to spend considerably more time with his children.
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