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Armstrong considering racing through 2005

3/1/2004

PARIS -- Five-time Tour de France winner
Lance Armstrong has said he is considering racing until the end
of 2005 because he cannot yet contemplate retirement.

"I'll keep an open mind. Maybe I'll retire at the end of
this year, maybe at the end of next year," the 32-year-old
American told the sports daily L'Equipe on Monday.

Armstrong is chasing a record sixth victory Tour de France
victory this year.

"The only thing I know is that I can still race and that I
can't imagine myself waking up as a retired person one day, in
less than a year, because I feel as strong as ever and because
there still are a lot of beautiful races to be won," he said.

"We'll see in due time what my heart and my legs will tell
me."

Armstrong hinted that his final decision also depended on
whether U.S. Postal continued sponsoring his team.

"I don't know what their decision will be. They are thinking
about it but the year is still young and we have plenty of time
until the end of the year," he said.

"If I stay for one more year, it will be out of the question
to start all over again with new bosses, new equipment, new
tactics and new strategy.

"Above all I would like to carry on with all the people I
know and I love, but even if U.S. Postal decided to withdraw from
the sport I think it would not be too difficult to find a new
sponsor and to keep the same team."

Asked about the sudden death of former Tour de France winner
Marco Pantani, Armstrong said the sport would survive. The
34-year-old Italian had been at the center of a series of legal
probes into doping.

"Marco had problems. He was in need of help that he didn't
get or he rejected," he said.

"I don't think that cycling entered an uncontrollable spiral. The Tour de France will never die."

Asked what his reaction would be if his son Luke wanted to
become a professional rider, Armstrong replied: "My answer would
be, 'of course go ahead'. Doping would never influence my
judgment.

"If he likes cycling, if he is not afraid of the work he
will have to do, I'll never try to discourage him. On the
contrary, I'll always be there to help him and it would be
the same if he wanted to become a journalist, a guitar player or
a teacher."