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.”

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
Pistorius leaves Pretoria High Court to be taken to prison

Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'


Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains

Life and Style

Company says data is only collected under 'temporary' identities that are discarded every 15 minutes

peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Life and Style

Some experiencing postnatal depression don't realise there is a problem. What can be done?

Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems and Network Administrator

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: We are recruiting for a Systems and ...

English Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Group: English as an Additional Langua...

Nursery assistants required in Cambridgeshire

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

History Teacher

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album