While on his first holiday since breaking his own record of six Tour de France wins, Lance Armstrong is enjoying the beaches of France's Mediterranean coastline near Nice, where he used to live some years ago. In the company of his partner Sheryl Crow and his three kids, the living legend wants his life after being a professional cyclist to be 'normal, calm'.
Now that he has ended his career, the man whose favourite nickname amongst all those given to him is 'Mr. Millimetre', described himself as " a cancer survivor, an athlete that has had a fortunate and extraordinary career and who now goes in search of balance, of calm," in an interview published by Italian daily Gazzetta della Sport. "I expect busy days, but without stress," he added, reiterating his will not to give road racing another try.
"No, there’s no possibility of returning to racing with a number on my back," he said. "I won't be like Michael Jordan. I'll still ride my bike to stay fit and I could also participate in a few mountain bike races or ‘cross just for enjoyment, but no more road racing." Then again, Armstrong didn't rule out a little competition in his new life completely. Asked whether he preferred golf to a marathon now, he said, " No doubt: marathon. I would like to train to run under two hours and 30 minutes, and perhaps I will shoot for two hours and 15. I know that I will face my challenges on other roads of life - but not soon. In the end, winning, being the best was a necessity for me, almost an obsession. From now on I won't have that any more. I need a normal life. Of calm."
Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine Lance Armstrong chilling with his family for very long. What about the rumours of him having a go at politics, possibly running for Governor of Texas? "For the moment I don't have any type of political leanings or ambitions. I would like to face the post-racing life as quietly as possible," he replied, saying that both George W. Bush and John Kerry are "two friends". In the near future, Armstrong actually might assist Sheryl Crow in the pursuit of her career, just as she did for him, too - another indication that Armstrong can't sit still for long.
"To have Sheryl at the Tour gave me strength," he said. "Now it’s my turn. Certainly, I could follow her on a world concert tour. I am retired from the bike and I want to get back some good nights filled with rock n’ roll, good food, good wine. And if she needs it I could play guitar," laughed Armstrong, who was also seen having coffee with his friend Bono from U2.
Looking back on his career, clearly focused on the Tour de France, Armstrong admitted he felt as though some races were missing on his palmarès. "Perhaps a Spring Classic, a Tour of Flanders, a Roubaix. I think Flanders and Roubaix perhaps were suited to my racing style. Here, for that I have a little regret," he said. Asked which was the worst moment in his career, from a sporting point of view, he replied, "The time trial at Cap Découverte in 2003, by a long way. The chase to Morzine in 2002, another bad day." And the best? "From the technical point of view I would say Alpe d’Huez in 2001, when I broke away from Ullrich at the first hairpins, or Hautacam in 2000 when I left the Ullrich and Pantani on the slopes. But in terms of emotions, the victory at Limoges in 1995 remains insurmountable, beyond category."
And the all-American champ also addressed the problem of doping in the sport. "Doping has always existed, from the first Olympics. We can, actually, we must fight, we must have strict rules, but we must be aware that it will always exist. What bothers me personally is that the great champions, those at the top of their sport, will always be accused or suspected of doping. I know that is part of the game, but at the same time I can't take it any more. I don't support more doping tests and suspicions in general. And I am tired of continually putting my body at the disposal of doping controls of every type: UCI, WADA, USADA, Federations, French Ministry. There are no limits. At the Tour, in addition to the daily antidoping controls set out in the regulations, I was subjected to blood tests by the UCI and to seven other surprise controls, the better part of which wanted American samples," Armstrong concluded.