No regrets

An interview with Lance Armstrong, July 23, 2005

With 144km of his career to go, Lance Armstrong is looking forward, not back

After finally getting a stage win in this Tour de France with victory in the 20th stage, Lance Armstrong has the general classification sewn up. He will wear the leader's yellow jersey into Paris today and step down from the podium as a civilian. He's looking forward to it. Tim Maloney, European Editor reports from Saint Etienne.

In his final Tour de France press conference, Lance Armstrong met with the assembled media on the eve of his final professional race Sunday, the 21st stage of the 92nd Tour de France. Fresh from his ninth Tour de France time trial stage win since 1999, Armstrong said, ''Quite honestly, I wasn't absolutely sure I could (win today).

"I thought Jan (Ullrich) would be strong, and then when I got to the first time check (after 17km), I saw that Ivan (Basso) was seven seconds up and I thought 'Oh boy, this could be an interesting day."

Armstrong added, ''I ended up turning things around and winning. So, pleasant surprise.''

Looking at the penultimate win of his fourteen year pro career, Armstrong said, "It's nice to finish your career on a high note. As a sportsman, I wanted to go out on top.''

One key motivation for the almost seven time Tour winner is having his three kids there to see their dad. "It was a dream for me," he explained.

''I wanted to ride in today and ride into Paris in yellow for them,'' Armstrong added. But Lance isn't looking back; he's looking forward to Monday, when his vacation starts.

"We're going to fly to the south of France and go to the beach for a week, and play with the kids on the beach and drink wine and eat lots of food," said Armstrong.

"This job is stressful, and this race is stressful, so hopefully the next week will be a preview of what my life will be like for the next 50 years, although I can't promise I won't show up at a few cyclo-cross events or mountain bike or triathlon races. I'm an athlete. I've been competing in swimming and running events since I was 12 years old."

Talking about how he handled himself in the seventh straight Tour, Armstrong said, "For me there was no pressure for this victory. It was just something that I had within myself. As a sportsman, I wanted to go out on top. And so that was the only incentive and the only pressure."

But Armstrong revealed that he did have one motivation; to show his children what he does, who he is. "My children are here, thank goodness. And I wanted the last image of their father as a sportsman to be as a champion. I came here with the intention to do one thing, and that's to win the overall. If I'd come in second, that's okay. The one event that I'm sure that I wanted to win was the team time trial.

"I would have been a lot more disappointed with second place there than I would have been with second place today. Luckily we got that, luckily we got a stage victory today. But that doesn't give or take panache. Seven Tours gives or takes panache.

"So come Monday morning, we're going to wake up in Paris and the kids and Sheryl and I and a group of close friends and family we're going to fly to the south of France and enjoy ourselves for a week and lay on the beach and drink wine and not ride a bike and eat a lot of food and swim in the pool, splash around with my kids and not worry."

As for the next chapter in Lance Armstrong's life, he said, "My intention is not to remain a public figure for the next few years. I need a period of quiet and peace and privacy. I suppose that I'll be bothering Johan, begging for rides in the car, talking about tactics and how our riders are doing, but I suppose I'll be a little more stealth, if I can say that.

"But I promise you one thing: I will be parked in front of the TV watching the Tour de France. I think the 2006 Tour de France is going to be very interesting, from a tactical stand-point and from a personal stand point."

Armstrong is wrapping up his career with no regrets, nothing he would do over.

"As a matter of fact, I'm more convinced now than I've ever been. I have absolutely no regrets. I've had an unbelievable career. I've been blessed to ride 14 years as a professional. I've been blessed with financial rewards that I never thought would be possible. There's no reason to continue. I don't need more. It's time for a new face. (I have) no regrets."

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