Lance to ride Tour - but when?

Lance Armstrong has said he will ride the Tour de France at least once more in his career. But he st

Lance Armstrong has said he will ride the Tour de France at least once more in his career. But he st
PICTURE BY TDWSPORT.COM The Discovery Channel team was introduced to the press in Silver Spring, Maryland, yesterday and naturally the main attraction for the assembled media was six-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong. The main focus on Armstrong was whether he would be riding the Tour de France this year, or in any future year. Armstrong admitted that according to the terms of his contract with his new employers he will be riding the Tour at least one more time, but he maintained his prior position of not allowing himself to be drawn on whether that one time will be 2005 or 2006. Once again, Armstrong stated that he would ride a number of the spring Classics before deciding whether to try for a seventh consecutive Tour win. "I'll definitely be in France this summer," he said. "It just might not be on the bike." Asked about that contract with Discovery, Armstrong said: "The deal is that I will do a Tour, if not more. That could be in 2005 or 2006, but I'm fully committed to doing it." Asked how he felt he would respond to potentially seeing someone else sipping champagne on the final day run-in to the Champs Elyses, Armstrong responded: "Will it hurt to see somebody else sipping champagne? I don't know if it'll hurt, but it might make me a little hungry." Later in the press conference he referred to widely reported conjecture about him possibly missing the 2005 Tour and coming back next year by saying: "I've read some stuff where the organisers say, 'Well, maybe it's good if he sits out a year and lets somebody else win and then he comes back and there's a rematch.' That does sound like a good idea, but that's not going to be what makes the decision." One issue that Armstrong did confirm was his interest in tackling Chris Boardman's world hour record. "It has become a serious consideration. It is something that fascinates me. Johan and I have not really sat down and talked a lot about it, what it takes to do it, where it fits in in the year, which I think is one of the trickiest things." More than anything, his concern at the moment is where any possible attempt on the Hour might take place, with Britain being one option he mentioned. "Obviously we can do it in Manchester where it's been done several times. Ideally we would look for a high-altitude location and there are not that many covered velodromes at altitude, so you're at the mercy of the winds and the elements. It's just a question of where we go, what we find and if we build a velodrome to do it, and then take the velodrome down. And I think that's probably the most likely scenario as of today." Armstrong also spoke about a London High Court judge's ruling in the Texan's libel case against the Sunday Times and its chief sports reporter, David Walsh. At a pre-trial hearing, Judge Eady found that the newspaper's defence on an article about Armstrong published on June 13 last year was lacking in several ways, notably in the failure of the author to contact Armstrong for a comment on serious allegations laid out in the piece. "Besides us, I think that this ruling by the High Court of London was a significant victory for the [newspaper's] readers. So we're very happy, obviously. We respect the decision but the process carries on. This is not a final, final, final victory, but certainly a good indication of what is going to be accepted and not be accepted in world journalism. We're very proud, but above all, we're very thankful that Discovery stood by us."
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