Lance Armstrong shows burst in final stage of his first comeback race

January 25, 2009

Australia (ChattahBox) — Seven-time Tour de France winner 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.

Armstrong, who announced last year he was making a comeback at the age of 37, finished 71st in Sunday’s final stage of the six-day 800 kilometer tour and 29th overall from 133 starters, 49 seconds behind Australian race winner Allan Davis. He did show a positive burst of speed in the final stage accelerating ahead of the peloton and leading the field for the first time all week, before falling back to the pack. Afterwards Armstrong said he never expected to win the race but hoped to be competitive in the middle of the year.

“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.”

Sunday’s final 81km stage in Adelaide was won by 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. Spaniard 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 traveled 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.

Next up for Lance is the Tour of California next month, where Armstrong stated firmly that he and his Astana teammates would be riding in support of two-time defending California champion Levi Leipheimer.


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