Lance endorses Paris' 2012 Olympic Games bid

In other news involving comments made by Lance Armstrong, the six-time Tour de France winner has given his personal endorsement to Paris' bid for hosting the 2012 Olympics, which the city began its presentations to IOC's evaluation commission on Tuesday.

"I think Paris deserves the Olympics," said Armstrong to Associated Press before Wednesday's stage of Paris-Nice from Thiers to Craponne-sur-Arzon. "I think they were arguably the best candidate in 2008 but for different reasons Paris didn't win, and they went to Beijing. Paris is one of the legendary cities in the world."

The French capital is widely tipped as the red-hot favourite over rivals New York, London, Moscow and Madrid, and if successful, 2012 will mark the third time Paris has hosted the Olympics, the first being in 1900 and the second in 1924. Sports Minister Jean-Francois Lamour spoke of creating a "new sporting infrastructure" for the French capital, bid spokesman Jerome Lenfant said, which includes the Stade de France and a proposed €1.9 billion (US$ 2.52 billion) Olympic village.

"My family wants to see it. Now in my lifetime, I hope to have the chance to see it," said Armstrong, who added his heart lies with New York, believing the city devastated by the September 11 terrorist attacks has a chance of hosting the Games in 2012 or 2016.

In the opening day's presentation, French officials spoke of the city's plans for 80 percent of all venues to be within 10 minutes' drive of the Olympic village, which would house 17,100 athletes and coaches. The four-day visit by IOC evaluators will conclude this Saturday, before leaving for Moscow. Visits to Madrid, London and New York have already taken place.

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