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Armstrong on retirement, Contador and "the look"

Lance Armstrong signs on and on for his fans.

Lance Armstrong signs on and on for his fans. (Image credit: Santos Tour Down Under/Russell Mountford)

During a wide-ranging and candid interview with Spanish daily El País, Lance Armstrong has spoken about his hopes for the Tour de France, riding into 2011 and, of course, Alberto Contador. There was nothing controversial in his comments about Spaniard.

Indeed, the most interesting sections of the interview focused on questions the seven-time Tour winner is seldom asked, such as how he thinks he’s viewed in the peloton.

Asked whether he feels he’s respected or feared in the peloton, Armstrong responded: “It’s impossible for me to know what the rest are thinking. I know that at one time they used to fear me and perhaps they do now respect me. Young riders come up to me and ask me, very respectfully, if they can have their photo taken with me. That makes me feel old,” admitted the 38-year-old.

“But you are old,” El País’s Carlos Arribas told him. “I’m old, but not as old as [Cervélo’s 40-year-old Iñigo] Cuesta,” Armstrong joked in return.

He was then asked about the time when riders did fear him and Armstrong was quick to employ “the look”, that burning stare of disapproval directed at those who had got on his wrong side.

“That look… I’ve still got it. In life there are passionate, committed, intense people and passive people. I’m one of the former… I might once have used that look on some journalist, but I also use it on my kids when they don’t obey me. The same intense look. And I use it just the same on those I don’t like as with my children, who I love more than I do myself. It’s the same personality, the same intensity.”

Asked how important an eighth Tour win is to him, Armstrong said, “It’s not essential. I don’t need it especially. I only need it as a reward for my hard work. But, honestly, there’s no difference between winning seven or eight. The next Tour will be a great story: the rivalry with Alberto, what happened last year… This will be good for the Tour, but it won’t change my life if I win it or I don’t, nor the lives of my children.”

Asked whether someone as competitive as him always needs to win, Armstrong responded, “Yes… but the key thing is that it will be very difficult. I’m 38. Alberto is 27 and improving every year. I can see that, people can see that, Alberto can see that… The forecast is not in my favor.”

The Texan said that he would only be frustrated at losing the Tour if an error cost him victory. “If I’m at my top level at 38 years old, I don’t commit any mistakes, I don’t suffer any falls, I don’t get ill or puncture at a bad moment, I don’t have any bad luck and the best man wins, I won’t be able to have any regrets."

As for continuing into 2011, Armstrong replied, “I will decide on that after the Tour. The hardest part is my family. I really miss them…”

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