Armstrong considering racing through 2005

Updated: March 1, 2004, 9:55 AM ET
Reuters

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."