Lance Armstrong, the world’s most iconic cyclist, confirmed last night he would be riding the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour next month.
Armstrong will be in South Africa from March 9-11 as part of a fund-raising initiative for JAG, a Cape Town-based charity. The charity had continued to deny Armstrong would remain in South Africa for the Cycle Tour, which takes place on March 14. However, late last night on the Twitter social media website, Armstrong announced he would be riding in the world’s biggest timed cycling race.
“Hey South Africa! Excited to come down in March. Bringing your man Daryl Impey with me. And yes, we?re racing The Argus. Hear great things,” wrote Armstrong. ?And really looking forward to coming down to SA and working with the JAG Foundation to support all the great work they are doing.”
Impey, the 25-year old South African cyclist, has joined Armstrong’s new United States-based Radioshack team, and is highly regarded as an up-and-coming talent. Impey was selected by Armstrong to take part in the first big race of the 2010 season, the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia last month.
“It’s a privilege for me,” said Impey last night from his European base of Girona, Spain. “It’s time to learn from the master, and also to make a difference to many people’s lives back home. The Argus will be fun to ride. I’ve told Lance all about it, and how it’s so massive in South Africa.
“Hey, it’s going to be great. Maybe this is the year I can win,” laughed Impey.
It was at the Tour Down Under that rumours Armstrong would stay on in South Africa to ride the Cycle Tour began to strengthen. Phil Liggett, the commentator known as the “Voice of Cycling”, who has homes in South Africa and spends part of the summer here, told Cycle Tour officials that Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France champion, had confirmed to him he would ride in the Cycle Tour.
Last night, Dave Bellairs, the co-director the Cycle Tour, joked: “Well, has someone told him we are full. No, I’m really, really pleased and over the moon. He is cycling’s superstar and has done more for the global growth of the sport than any rider in history. Having him at the Cycle Tour is massive for us. We knew he would be in town for the JAG Foundation and had hoped he would ride in the race, but his schedule is full this year as he focuses on trying to win the Tour de France for the eighth time. We’ll release more details as soon as we can.”
Armstrong will have a rather full schedule when he visits South Africa, addressing an exclusive 400-person banquet on March 9 and then leading a 100km ride with a small group of riders on March 10, rumoured to cost each rider a tidy R175 000. A 700-strong crowd will attend a breakfast on March 11.
Armstrong is also said to have all but confirmed he would be riding in the 2011 Absa Cape Epic, the team mountain bike stage race through the Western Cape. Epic race director Kevin Vermaak said last week he had been in constant contact with Armstrong’s management and was confident he would take part next year.
This article was posted on Independent Online on the 4th of February 2010.