Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong to take part in Iowa bike ride

 

Six months after his sensational doping confession, Lance Armstrong has announced a low-key return to the cycling circuit. The disgraced athlete will take part in an annual recreational ride across the Midwestern state of Iowa, organised by The Des Moines Register newspaper.

It marks Armstrong’s first official cycling engagement – not to mention his first major public appearance – since he admitted using several banned substances and blood doping during his professional career, in a widely watched television interview with Oprah Winfrey in January. “I’m well aware my presence is not an easy topic, and so I encourage people if they want to give a high five, great,” the 41-year-old told the Register. “If you want to shoot me the bird, that’s OK, too.”

As many as 10,000 riders are expected to take part in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, a week-long, 406-mile trek from the banks of the Missouri River in the west to the Mississippi in the east of the state. The event’s organisers describe it as “the world’s oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event.”

The ride begins on 21 July, which just happens to be the final day of the 2013 Tour de France, which Armstrong won seven times – titles of which he has now been stripped. Last month the Texan told French newspaper Le Monde that he believed it was “impossible to win the Tour de France without doping”.

Armstrong was banned from professional cycling for life in October 2012, following a report by the US Anti-Doping Agency which accused him of leading “the most sophisticated, professional and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

He was stripped of the record seven Tour titles he took between 1999 and 2005, as well as an Olympic bronze medal, and now faces lawsuits set to deprive him of up to $135m (£90m). “I’m committed to working through them,” he told the Register, “whether it's settling cases or whether it's fighting some cases – because some have merit, some don't. But I'm committed to the process, and that's probably as much as I would and could say about it... Unless you have $135 million you want to let me borrow, or have?”

Armstrong said he will be joined on the Iowa ride by several of the staff from Mellow Johnny’s, the bike shop he owns in his hometown of Austin, Texas. They will spend at least “three or four days” on the RAGBRAI, which, like Armstrong, is in its 41st year. This will be the fifth time he has ridden in the event. Explaining his decision to participate again, he said, “To be honest, it’s not a statement, it’s not an experiment. It’s just me wanting to go ride my bike with what in the past has been a friendly group of people who share the same interests.”

TJ Juskiewicz, the event’s director, said, “What attracts the other 10,000 people to RAGBRAI attracts [Armstrong]: he likes riding his bike and hanging out with people… Some people are going to say ‘Hey, welcome back’, and there’ll be others that are disappointed in him.” Armstrong was well aware that not all the other riders will be pleased to see him. But, he said, “I’m a big boy... I made the bed, I get to sleep in it.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Voices
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
voices
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living