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Lance Armstrong: a career in 39 quotes

Lance Armstrong recently celebrated his 39th birthday and Cyclingnews has decided to look back through his career with 39 of his most famous quotes, comments, reactions and tweets.

From his Tour-stage-winning ride that paid tribute to Fabio Casartelli in 1995 to his second retirement from the sport after the 2010 Tour de France, this is Lance Armstrong in his own words.

39 “This was for Fabio Casartelli. I was very, very bad in the last bit, but I kept thinking of him. I did it for one person.”
After winning the 1995 Tour stage into Limoges three days after the death of his Motorola team-mate.

38 “I figure the faster I pedal, the faster I can retire.”
Lance Armstrong

37 “I want all of you to know that I intend to beat this disease. And further, I intend to ride again as a professional cyclist.”
During a press conference to reveal that he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer on 8 October 1996

36 “I am happy that I have proven that I am now over my illness. I did not ride the 1998 Tour with all the problems. It is true that cycling is going through problems at present. But it is a problem like those that exist in other areas of life.”
In the press conference after winning the 1999 Tour de France prologue

35 "I hope it sends out a fantastic message to all survivors around the world. We can return to what we were before – and even better.”
In Paris after taking his first Tour title in 1999

34 “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”
It’s Not About the Bike, published May 2000

33 “His accusations aren’t good for cycling, for his team, for me, for anybody. If he thinks cycling works like that, he’s wrong and he would be better off going home.”
Responding to Christophe Bassons’ criticism of the doping culture in cycling during the 2000 Tour

32 “But, umm, Elefantino, it's unfortunate that he is showing his true colors, because I like Marco. And I have a lot of respect for him. I felt like it was a gift (to Pantani) on the Ventoux. And I also feel like it was a mistake to give the gift. He's a great rider, he's a great champion and he's a great climber. But he wasn't the best man on Ventoux. And anybody that watched the race will know it. But in hindsight, over the last few days, his actions and words have been disappointing to me because I thought he had more class than that."
After Marco Pantani had won the Mont Ventoux stage at the 2000 Tour

©AFP Photo

31 “This is my body, and I can do whatever I want to it. I can push it, study it, tweak it; listen to it. Everybody wants to know what I am on. What am I on? I am on my bike busting my ass six hours a day. What are you on?”
Nike commercial, 2001

30 “It was a coup de poker – it was all a bluff to make Telekom work today. It worked perfect for us. We didn't know that Telekom was going to ride hard tempo almost from the beginning of the stage. So the plan [to bluff] was born on the road, since we know that they are all watching on TV anyway, so we decided to bluff.”
Speaking on at Alpe d’Huez in 2001 after pretending he was struggling before launching a winning attack past Telekom’s Jan Ullrich

©AFP Photo

24 “This was my hardest win – we dodged some bullets. It was a rough year at the Tour and I don’t plan to make the same mistakes twice. But my win feels more satisfying, more than the others because of that. The crashes and near-crashes take it out of you.”
In Paris at the end of the 2003 Tour

23 “In retrospect, I’m not so sure that he did wait. In replays, he seems to be riding race tempo. He didn’t attack, but he didn’t wait either.”
Reflecting on Ullrich’s response when Armstrong and Iban Mayo crashed on the ascent to Luz Ardiden in Every Second Counts, published in October 2003

22 “If there was a god, I’d still have both nuts.”
ET magazine, 2004

21 “That motivates me more than anything. It’s very simple. It certainly doesn't work against me. I don’t want to make it worse than it was. This is big-time sport… The people are excited and emotional and they have their guy but that doesn’t take away from my love of the game, with my desire to win. In fact, as I said, I think it puts a little fuel on the fire.”
After winning the Alpe d’Huez mountain time trial in 2004 in front of a frenzied crowd

20 “Run like you stole something, Floyd.”
Urging on team-mate Floyd Landis before the descent into Le Grand Bornand in 2004.

©AFP Photo

19 “No gifts, no gifts this year. I’ve given gifts in the Tour de France and very rarely has it ever come back to help me. And this is the biggest bike race in the world and it means more than any bike race in the world. And I wanna win. No gifts.”After sprinting to chase down and beat T-Mobile rival Andreas Klöden at Le Grand Bornand in 2004

10 “I need to run for one office, the presidency of the Cancer Fighters’ Union of the World.”
Sports Illustrated interview in 2006

9 “I am happy to announce that after talking with my children, my family and my closest friends, I have decided to return to professional cycling in order to raise awareness of the global cancer burden.”
In a statement released by the Lance Armstrong Foundation in September 2008

8 “I’m here to fight this disease. You are not worth the chair that you’re sitting on with a statement like that with a disease that touches everybody around the world.”
Blasting Paul Kimmage at a press conference at the Tour of California in 2009 after The Sunday Times reporter had called Armstrong “the cancer in this sport” during a radio interview

7 “Seeing these comments from AC [Alberto Contador]. If I were him I’d drop this drivel and start thanking his team. w/o them, he doesn't win.”
Twitter post 27 July 2009

©Roberto Bettini

6 “Congrats to Contador. He showed that, as most people would agree, he is the best bike rider in the world right now. Hats off to him.”
In a RadioShack team video after Contador’s victory at the Tour of the Algarve in February 2010

5 “It’s our word against his word. I like our word. We like our credibility. Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago.”
In May 2010, responding to Landis’s accusations of systematic doping at the US Postal team

4 “There are 3 guys here in the race that I raced against their dads too....”
Twitter posting while competing at the Tour of Switzerland in June 2010

2 “Do the American people feel like this is a good use of their tax dollars? That’s for them to decide. Like I said, as long as we have a legitimate and credible and fair investigation, we’d be happy to co-operate. But I’m not going to participate in any kind of witch hunt. I’ve done too many good things for too many people.”
Speaking to the New York Times on July 14 about the Jeff Novitzky lead investigation sparked by Landis’s accusations.

1 “This race has been good to me but I can’t lie, I'm ready to retire part two. I was just glad that three weeks of suffering is over and I get to go home. I don't have to stress about racing every day. I have a lot of happiness, a lot of good memories, just a lot of good times here.”
Confirming the 2010 Tour de France was after the final stage in Paris.

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).