Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lance Armstrong Will Ride in At Least Three 2009 Races

Lance Armstrong appeared at a press conference this afternoon after having participated in the opening plenary session of the 2008 Clinton Global Initiative meeting. He's decided to return to professional cycling, not only for the purpose of competition, stemming from a true love of the sport, but to increase his presence as a spokesperson for his cause.
NYT: Addressing the opening session of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on Wednesday, Armstrong said he would convene the first global summit of the Livestrong campaign to raise cancer awareness in Paris after the Tour.

He said, "Carrying this strong message around the world, whether it's on a bicycle or through the media is my number one goal."

Armstrong says he'll race in 2009 with Astana [see NYT story], the first race being in Australia in the Tour Down Under. The only other races he'd confirm taking part in will be Tour de France and the Leadville 100.

Armstrong pointed to Olympic contender Taylor Finney as "the future of American cycling" and said that he hoped that the Live Strong Global campaign adds a development component to a committed team already trying their best to win big events.

In a moment of contemplation about his drive to win (while not knowing how he'll perform in these races), Armstrong credited his mother for his willingness and spirit to never quit.

NYT: Armstrong, a fierce and uncompromising competitor, has kept in reasonably good shape. He has competed in several marathons, finishing them in under three hours. Recently, he has raced in smaller cycling races near the home he is building in Aspen, Colo., finishing second this summer in the Leadville Trail 100, a 100-mile mountain bike race through the Rocky Mountains. He raced for Team Livestrong, which is associated with his cancer foundation.

Armstrong has said the Leadville race, in particular, stoked his desire to return to competitive racing. Just before that race, he rejoined the testing pool run by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Athletes are required to be in the program for at least six months before participating in elite-level competition.

He called Don Catlin "beyond reproach" in his field as an anti-doping scientist and Armstrong plans to use Catlin for his own personal anti-doping program.

Voicing his his appreciation when one woman shared her personal story about her experience with having had cancer and writing a book about it, Armstrong said that there are those who live in societies today who still cannot talk freely about having the disease because of the stigma that all too often goes along with the risk of being so honest. Being ostracized for having cancer is commonplace in some of these societies and whether it's riding a bike, writing a book, participating in community outreach or whatever one person has the power to do, sharing those experiences help people understand that they're not alone. He urged everyone to do whatever they can to create and perpetuate an open and honest discussion about cancer.

Armstrong is convinced that we'll see the face of health care changing in the U.S. regardless of who wins the upcoming election, albeit more change will be likely "if one party wins over the other." He didn't mention which party he meant. When it comes to cancer, he's convinced that the upcoming change in US health care will have a dramatic impact on those who need it most.

What shocks Lance Armstrong? That was a question asked of him today. Armstrong replied with an answer that will cause anyone who's had a loved one suffer with cancer to hope for something better in the future of cancer research. He said, "I'll tell you what shocks me, I 20 years..we'll look back on chemotherapy and that will shock us....we'll look at that and say, 'I can't believe we did that to a fellow human being.'"

I'm a blogger...not a conventional reporter..and I can tell you that I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, remembering my own mother's four-year battle with the disease, a battle that she lost in 2005. lance Armstrong's description of his own mother teaching him to "never quit" rang true when I thought of my mother's valiant fight. She never gave up.

[Photos by Jude Nagurney Camwell]