Lance Armstrong will race hard in the next-to-last stage of the Tour de France, even though he doesn't need to.
Armstrong has all but clinched his record sixth straight Tour title. He could play it safe in today's time trial and still go on to win, but that's not in his plans.
"I have to go hard," he said. "It's the obligation of the yellow jersey to go hard on a final time trial. I'll do my best."
If Armstrong takes the time trial, it would be his fifth stage victory -- his most in any Tour. Last year was the only time he didn't win a clock race, losing to Jan Ullrich and David Millar. Armstrong won six of eight time trials between 1999 and 2002, and he earned his seventh on Wednesday with a hectic sprint up L'Alpe D'Huez.
He is also relishing one final duel with archrival Ullrich -- the 1997 Tour winner -- who has finished second to Armstrong three times since 1999.
"Jan will be strong," Armstrong said. "He'd like to finish the Tour with a stage win."
Armstrong dominated the headlines again Friday even though he didn't win the 18th stage. Armstrong was the focus of attention twice, by settling an old score with Filippo Simeoni and confirming that this would not be the last time he races the Tour de France. That was enough to take the spotlight away from Juan Miguel Mercado's first stage win.
Simeoni, involved in a legal battle with Armstrong, tried to break away from the pack but he was stopped in his tracks by the defending champion. Even though Simeoni isn't a threat to Armstrong's title hopes, the Texan chased him down anyway.
The animosity began because of Simeoni's testimony against sports doctor Michele Ferrari, with whom Armstrong has ties. Ferrari faces allegations of providing performance-enhancing drugs to riders. In 2002, Simeoni told an Italian court that Ferrari advised him to take drugs.
Ferrari has testified that he never prescribed or administered banned substances.
In a newspaper interview earlier during this Tour, Simeoni said Armstrong called him a liar. Because of that he is suing Armstrong for libel.
"All he wants to do is destroy cycling and destroy the sport that pays him, and that's wrong," Armstrong said Friday.
Simeoni was trying to catch a group of six riders who dashed ahead early in the trek through eastern France.
Armstrong followed him, and they caught the escape group. The lead riders couldn't win the stage with Armstrong bearing down so Simeoni obeyed cycling etiquette and ended his attack.
"Armstrong demonstrated to the entire world what type of person he is," Simeoni said. "It is not reasonable that a great champion doesn't give a chance to a small rider like me. I suffered an injustice from him while everyone was watching."
Mercado won the 103.2-mile trek, which started in Annemasse, in 4 hours, 4 minutes and 3 seconds.
"Everybody understood that this is their job and they absolutely love it," Armstrong said. "They're committed to it and they don't want somebody within their sport destroying it. When I came back I had a lot of riders patting me on the back and saying `Thank you.'"
Armstrong's overall lead over Ivan Basso of Italy remained unchanged at 4:09 -- more than enough to see him through to the finish in Paris.
Ullrich, who beat Armstrong in last year's opening time trial, is in fourth place, 8:08 behind. His focus now will be a spot on the podium and a place in history as only the third rider to finish second in the Tour six times.
Barring major disaster, Armstrong will become the first six-time winner of the 101-year-old race. And it might not be his last victory. He said Friday that he will race again, but maybe not next year. Armstrong will try other events, including Classic races that are an important part of cycling tradition and which "require a different type of focus."
Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is buying the Forum for US$400 million, ending the billionaire’s legal fight with Madison Square Garden Co (MSG) and clearing the way to build a new arena for his NBA team down the street in Inglewood, California. Ballmer on Tuesday announced his cash purchase of the venerated arena. Ballmer, a former Microsoft executive, and Clippers vice chairman Dennis Wong are making the transaction through CAPSS LLC, a newly formed entity that would continue to operate the Forum as a live music venue. “This is an unprecedented time, but we believe in our collective future,” Ballmer said.
DISSENT: The US track and field body joined sports officials in Norway and Brazil, as well as Indian athletes, in calling on the IOC to postpone the Tokyo Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 organizers have started drafting possible alternatives to holding the Olympics this summer, two sources familiar with the talks said, in contrast to the Japanese government’s stance that postponement is not an option. While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted sports events around the world, Japan has been steadfast in saying that the Games would go on. A Japanese government spokesman on Wednesday said that Tokyo was not preparing for postponement. “Finally, we have been asked to make a simulation in case of a postponement,” said one of the sources, an official close to the organizing committee who is involved in drafting the
PROUD, BUT BOWING OUT: The Dallas center missed all of 2018 due to Guillain-Barre syndrome, but Travis Frederick returned to be a standout again last season Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick on Monday stunningly announced his retirement. Frederick, who turned 29 on Wednesday last week, was a Pro Bowl selection in five of his six NFL seasons. Frederick revealed his retirement in a lengthy letter, beginning it by writing: “After much consideration, discussion, and reflection, I have decided to retire from football. This was not an easy decision.” Frederick cited his bout with autoimmune disease Guillain-Barre syndrome as a factor. He missed the 2018 season due to the illness in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system, but he returned to be a standout again last
EXPENDITURE: Tokyo Games organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said that ‘additional expenses are going to be quite massive’ to reschedule the Olympics The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is working with sports bodies to arrange a July-to-August window next year for the postponed Tokyo Olympics and hopes to confirm the schedule within a month, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun reported yesterday. John Coates, head of the IOC’s coordination commission for the Tokyo Olympics, told the newspaper that the Games would have to be held between the tennis Grand Slams of Wimbledon, scheduled to end in mid-July, and the US Open, which starts in late August. “We want to more or less finalize the dates in four weeks’ time,” the newspaper quoted Coates as saying. Coates, who is also