Thursday's Eurofile: Armstrong says he needs to train; More MSR rosters
By Andrew Hood
VeloNews European correspondent
This report filed March 17, 2005
Lance Armstrong received yet another award this week after receiving the Grand Prix de l'Academie des Sports in Paris on Tuesday, where he told reporters he's behind in his preparation for the Tour de France.
Armstrong at Tuesday's awards ceremony
Armstrong said wintry weather at the recent Paris-Nice wasn't the ideal setting for his return to Europe. Cold weather and a fever prompted the Texan to not start the fourth stage.
"Maybe I shouldn't have started Paris-Nice. It was a hard race, very fast, intense and with bad weather," he said. "I must admit I'm a little bit behind, more than I normally would be."
Armstrong insisted he'll be racing this summer's Tour, but wouldn't elaborate on where he expects to finish.
"I am going to try it. Only an injury or illness would stop me," he said. "I don't know if I'll win, but I will be at the start line."
The weather-shortened stages and his decision to leave the race undercut what was expected to be a solid week of training. Armstrong has since been training in Girona, Spain, as the European weather has returned to spring-like conditions.
"The body quickly wore down and got worse. Then I got sick. Next thing you know I go home," Armstrong said. "When you consider race conditions, the thing you can't emulate in training is the speed. When you shorten the stages by two-thirds the speed goes up and the time goes down. I was not ready for that."
The six-time Tour champion said he was touched by the prestigious award given to the year's top sporting achievement.
"I have to say it is an honor to be here. I don't normally get too choked up about things like this, but this is special," Armstrong was quoted on his webpage. "Winning six Tours is something beyond my comprehension."
Armstrong joins other sporting greats such Formula One champion Michael Schumacher and Brazilian national team hero Ronaldo, who previously won the award given to the male or female athlete with the best individual achievement over the previous year.
LA defends Olympic comments
Lance Armstrong defended himself after he spoke glowingly about Paris last week in an interview with a French newspaper at the expense of New York City to win the bid for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
Armstrong was roasted in the New York tabloid press over off-hand comments to the French media during last week's Paris-Nice that he preferred Paris over New York in the Olympics bid, comments he said were taken out of context.
"It's the first time I've ever been called un-American. So, I tried to resolve it. I spoke to the city (New York), to the (New York 2012) organizing committee," Armstrong said. "I sent messages to the mayor. It was amazing how a one-minute interview became worldwide news. Some of the tabloid papers, they let it rip. They took the gloves off. But c'est la vie, as they say."
Armstrong reaffirmed his support for the New York bid, but also expressed dismay at the ensuing uproar over his comments.
"As an American my heart has to be with New York City, and I have to support the bid for New York City," he said. "But you also have to be fair and say Paris has a good bid. Are they deserving cities for the Olympic Games? Absolutely. They're great cities, legendary cities, historical cities. Perhaps I wasn't strong enough when I said my vote was for New York City. Since it wasn't strong enough they said, ‘He's a traitor. He's a weasel.'"