[quote]Lance Armstrong is ready to swear off the chips and salsa, climb back on the bike and win an eighth Tour de France. Three years after retiring, the 36-year-old says he’ll return to competition and the Tour de France in 2009 . . .
Citing the slow pace of last year’s Tour and the rush from last month’s Leadville 100 race, Armstrong decided it was time to return.
“This kind of obscure bike race, totally kick-started my engine,” he told Vanity Fair in an exclusive interview, referring to the lung-searing 100-mile mountain bike race through the Colorado Rockies. “I’m going to try and win an eighth Tour de France.”
. . . Professional cycling and particularly the Tour have missed Armstrong’s star power, even though skeptics refused to believe he could win without the help of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
This time, Armstrong’s determined to silence the doubters and try to prove he really is clean.
He’s even hired a video crew to chronicle his training for 2009, as well as his drug tests, for a possible documentary.
“There’s this perception in cycling that this generation is now the cleanest generation we’ve had in decades, if not forever,” said Armstrong, who’s never tested positive. “And the generation that I raced with was the dirty generation. … So there is a nice element here where I can come with really a completely comprehensive program and there will be no way to cheat.”
. . . Diagnosed in 1996 with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain, doctors gave Armstrong less than a 50 percent chance of survival. Surgery and brutal cycles of chemotherapy saved his life.
From there, it was determination and powerful self-discipline that led him back to the bike and his stunning 1999 Tour win.
Armstrong’s goal every year was to win the Tour, and he dominated the Pyrenees and Alps like no other rider ever had. . .
Armstrong will be 37 next week. Only one rider older than 34 has ever won the Tour — 36-year-old Firmin Lambot in 1922. And Armstrong wasn’t impressed by the crop of younger riders in the 2008 Tour.
“It’s not a secret. I mean, the pace was slow,” he told Vanity Fair.
Armstrong noted other athletes in his age range competing at a high level, specifically 41-year-old Olympic medalist swimmer Dara Torres and 38-year-old Olympic women’s marathon champion Constantina Tomescu-Dita, of Romania.
“Ask serious sports physiologists and they’ll tell you age is a wives’ tale,” he said. . . [/quote]
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