Armstrong: Safety concerns may be consideration for '09 Tour

Updated: November 4, 2008, 4:38 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- Lance Armstrong has yet to decide whether he will try for an eighth Tour de France title in 2009.

[+] EnlargeLance Armstrong
JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty ImagesLance Armstrong rode through a hayfield during one memorable stage of his 2003 Tour win.

"I want to say I'm not trying to be coy; I'm not playing games with them [the Tour] or with fans or with media. I simply don't know," Armstrong said Tuesday during wind tunnel testing at the San Diego Air & Space Technology Center. "I'm not in a hurry. It's Nov. 4. ...

"I know there is tension. There is tension with French cycling fans, with French media and certainly tension with the organizers. And right now I don't want to deal with tension. And I don't know if I want to deal with tension in July," he said.

Jean-Etienne Amaury, the new president of the Tour's organizer, said last month that Armstrong had "embarrassed" the event.

Armstrong suggested his safety might be at risk if he enters the Tour again. The Austin, Texas, resident recalled watching his hometown college football team, the Texas Longhorns, lose at Texas Tech last weekend.

"[Texas Tech fans] hated, hated Texas; they hated them. ... I'm at home watching it and the trick there is that you're in a stadium and you're sort of protected," Armstrong said. "Cycling's not that way. So if they hate you and you're on the roads and they want you, they can get you."

His last Tours "weren't good," Armstrong said.

He doubted that the animosity would subside between now and the Tour's start in July.

"The only way it would change is if I gave up my American citizenship and became a French citizen, which is obviously not going to happen," Armstrong said. "And that might not even change it."

Armstrong questioned why he seems to be embraced by fans in other parts of Europe but not in France.

"It's very weird and the psychology of it, I can't figure it out," he said. "In a sense it's a historical event to them; no one had ever won more than five. The way I race the Tour, even stuff like I'm doing here today, the thought and methodical approach and the robotic approach to racing, not showing emotion, not showing suffering or pain, is not a popular style of racing in France.

"To them panache is the guy who suffers and is swinging all over his bike and looks like he's about to fall off. And I've never found that to be an effective way to try to win," he said.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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