2005年 04月 19日
PARIS (Reuters) - Three former great Tour de France champions have sympathised with six-times winner Lance Armstrong's decision to retire after this year's race.
Spaniard Miguel Indurain, one of four men to win France's greatest sporting spectacular five times, said the race involved more sacrifices each year.
"To say you're going to ride the Tour is one thing but to prepare for it is something else. It means six months of very hard work for which you can expect no help," he said.
Indurain told the Spanish sports daily Marca he thought Armstrong could still win the Tour this year.
"I think he still has the ability to win it again this year because if he didn't believe he could he wouldn't have accepted the challenge," he said.
"But I also think he will find it more difficult than last year because although he was very consistent you could see that he has lost his old explosiveness. However, he will still start as the big favourite."
"At least as far as the Tour is concerned he has won almost everything and if he doesn't win this year it won't matter because he has already earned his reputation.
Belgian Eddy Merckx, another five-times winner, said it was always unfortunate when such a great champion retired.
"It's a great personality who leaves the stage after winning six Tours de France, probably seven, and after beating cancer, which remains for me his greatest victory," Merckx told the French sports daily l'Equipe.
A third five-times champion, France's Bernard Hinault, said Armstrong was probably starting to fear he might lose.
"If he wins another Tour, he will be right not to have stopped directly after winning his sixth but if he loses, he will go through the back door," Hinault said.
Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc, who will retire at the same time as Armstrong, said he had expected the 33-year-old Texan's announcement.
"There was probably some weariness, more mentally than physically," he said.
"Nevertheless, as he's a winner, a man of pride, he will come on the Tour with the motivation required to try and win a seventh.
"I find it rather brave when he says he wants to stop on the Tour, and if possible on a seventh victory. It's a challenge for himself as much as for his rivals."
I had read his biography in Canada then I cried some topics that he wrote.
Absolutely he is a KING of Tour de France(Bycicle)!!!
He might retire from his career as a great player !!!
In Fact, my ex-boyfriend read his book and he recommended to read it.
Turn to the begining at the end.........
What a big causality!!!