Seven times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong touched down in Adelaide, Australia, by private jet on Tuesday to join his RadioShack team mates in preparation for his final race outside the USA – the Tour Down Under (January 18-23).
It’s two years since the Texan launched his comeback from retirement at the race, and the third year that he’s ridden the event.
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Armstrong wasted no time in organising a ‘Twitter Ride’ for Saturday morning via the microblogging site: “Hey #Adelaide – Twitter ride!! Let’s show our support for Queensland & those affected by the floods. Saturday 10am Wigley Reserve, Glenelg!” Several pro riders have already said they’ll join in, including Robbie McEwen, Simon Gerrans, Michael Rogers, Laurens Ten Dam and Stuart O’Grady.
Armstrong has spoken publicly about Australia’s recent, widespread flood problems and has personally pledged $50,000 to help in the relief effort for flood victims.
The RadioShack team including Armstrong have spent time acclimatising on the roads around Adelaide ahead of the one-day Cancer Council Classic arm-up race on Sunday and the start of the Tour Down Under on Tuesday, January 18.
McEwen, who placed fourth overall in last year’s race, will be the squad’s hope for sprint finishes against Andre Greipel, Mark Cavendish and Tyler Farrar. McEwen and Robbie Hunter were picked up by RadioShack after the Pegasus team they were signed with for 2011 failed to obtain a ProTeam licence or Professional Continental status. Along with Armstrong, McEwen and Hunter in RadioShack’s seven-man TdU squad are Ben Hermans, Manuel Cardoso, Markel Irizar and Gregory Rast.
Armstrong is currently the subject of an on-going investigation by the US Food and Drug Administration into allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs and blood doping techniques during his professional cycling career.
Last week Armstrong told the Sydney Morning Herald that he was unconcerned by the investigation. “I don’t let it affect me,” he said. “I have five kids to raise. I have a foundation to help run and lead. I still have, theoretically, a job – I ride my bike and train every day. It has no effect in what I do on a daily basis.”
The TdU will provide Armstrong with one last chance to grab a win in a professional cycling race.
Armstrong and Hermans
RadioShack hit the roads around Adelaide
Armstrong chats with RadioShack directeur sportif Jose Azevedo