x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Armstrong confident he can compete

Lance Armstrong said he believed he could again compete with the best cyclists in the world after completing his comeback race at the Tour Down Under in Australia.

Lance Armstrong has been reassured that he can race at the highest level after his comeback in Australia.
Lance Armstrong has been reassured that he can race at the highest level after his comeback in Australia.

Lance Armstrong said he believed he could again compete with the best cyclists in the world after completing his comeback race at the Tour Down Under in Australia. The seven-times Tour de France winner was content just to stick with the pack in his first race for three and a half years but said the experience had reassured him he could still match it with the best. He finished 71st in Sunday's final stage of the six-day 800km tour and 29th overall from 133 starters, 49 seconds behind Australian race winner Allan Davis. "I wouldn't say it has given me too much confidence (but) it's given me a reassurance that I can still race," he told reporters. "I think I can still race at the highest level."

Armstrong, who announced last year he was making a comeback at the age of 37, said he never expected to win the race but hoped to be competitive in the middle of the year. He began cautiously but made a couple of attacking moves in the latter stages of the Tour only to be swamped by the specialist sprinters in the mad dash at the end of each stage. "It helps when you have good legs, I felt a lot better today, probably the best of the entire week," he said. "So when you feel good and you've got good legs, you've got to go for it, don't you?" Sunday's final 81km stage in Adelaide was won by the Italian Francesco Chicchi ahead of Robbie McEwen and his fellow Australian Graeme Brown, who clipped each other in the final stages. Davis, who won three of the six stages, was the overall winner from Australia's Stuart O'Grady. Jose Joaquin Rojas was awarded third place on a countback from the 2007 race winner, Switzerland's Martin Elmiger. Armstrong's comeback sparked unprecedented global interest and an estimated 144,000 people turned up to watch Sunday's final stage. Journalists and photographers from around the world travelled to Adelaide for the race and Armstrong, who has had a prickly relationship with the media in the past, was on a charm offensive as part of his push to promote cancer awareness.