In an exclusive NOS-TV interview with Dutch journalist Mart Smeets, Lance Armstrong has given more clues as to his participation in the 2005 Tour de France.
"I don't want to go back," he said when asked if he was to return to the streets of France in July 2005. "I don't know which realisation is greater - do I not want to go back or do I want to do other things? And there are other things that I want to do in cycling." As examples, Armstrong stated the Flemish Classics as the Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold race, which he described as the race "with 300 million turns", Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège or even Paris-Roubaix. "I feel an urgent need to do those races," he said.
Asked if he could imagine the Giro d'Italia or the Vuelta a España on his racing schedule for the coming season, he clearly declined. "I cannot do the Giro because they are trying to prosecute me for sports fraud [referring to his ongoing case involving Filippo Simeoni - ed.], so I'm not going to present myself in that country and give them the photo opportunity that they're dying for."
As for the Vuelta, "The problem is: I do think the Giro is bigger than the Vuelta. The big days, in terms of the people, the emotion, the intensity on the roadside, are the Angliru and the Mortirolo - and the Giro is bigger," he explained. Other competitions he was keeping in mind were the World Championships in Madrid, as well as the hour record on track.
Although the interview was broadcast on January 5, 2005, it took place in November 2004 and therefore does not include any new statements. The Discovery Channel team presentation will be held in Silver Spring, Maryland, on January 10, 2005, where the secret of Armstrong's return to the Tour de France might be lifted. Stay tuned for Cyclingnews' coverage of the event by European editor Tim Maloney.