As he touched ground in Adelaide ahead of his third and last participation to the Santos Tour Down Under, Lance Armstrong announced that he would personally donate $50,000 to the victims of the floods in Queensland in the north east of Australia. In a press conference held at the Jacob's Creek visitor centre in the Barossa Valley alongside the Premier of South Australia Mike Rann, he launched another of his famous "Twitter rides" scheduled for Saturday with the aim of raising more funds for the disaster in Queensland.
Last year's "Twitter ride" in Glenelg was attended by almost 5,000 cyclists. "Whether we have 1,000 or 5,000 people joining the ride this time, the most important will be that people in Queensland will see they haven't been forgotten", Armstrong said. "The essence of a Twitter ride is to enjoy riding as a community."
Armstrong made his way to South Australia from the same training base he used in Hawaii in the past two years. In 2009, the Tour Down Under was the first race of his comeback year. This time, it will be the last one at World Tour level although he's still likely to race in the US before turning 40 this coming September.
"I feel all right," he commented in relation to his physical preparation for the event. "But I can't deny my age. Three years ago I thought I could deny it but I can't. For training, I've done stuff other than riding a bike but I've also trained on the same climbs as both those two years. They are up to 25 percent steep. You can't find harder than that."
Armstrong didn't express any intention of racing for the win in Adelaide. "The sprinters and their teams have dominated this race in the past two years," he noted. "Even on Willunga (the hardest stage on the penultimate day), they can bring it back. Last year it was close with [Alejandro] Valverde, [Cadel] Evans and [Peter] Sagan. Chances are that they (the sprinters) bring it back.
"The biggest change for us is the addition of Robbie McEwen. If we go back to our years with US Postal and Discovery Channel, we never had a top sprinter. It's an honour for us to have Robbie. Hopefully we can support him. We come here this time with a more dynamic team and a more Australian team as well, so we hope for more results."
Questioned about the comments and doping allegations made by Paul Kimmage in the past 24 hours, Armstrong took a humoristic stand as he answered: "The last 24 hours? Or the last 24 years? I have nothing to say about Paul Kimmage." When a question arose regarding federal agent Jeff Novitzky's investigation into the former US Postal team, Armstrong's entourage put an end to the press conference.
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