Geraint Thomas: ‘I saw the Barcelona result, and thought anything can happen in sport’

Team Sky rider draws inspiration from football for Tirreno-Adriatico stage win

Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas began the Tirreno-Adriatico stage today with revenge and football on his mind, and ended it with a solo escape to the hilltop Tuscan town of Pomarance.

Thomas lost his chances of winning the Tirreno-Adriatico overall, one year after doing so in Paris-Nice, when Team Sky suffered from three wheel problems in the opening team time trial, losing more than a minute to the other overall contenders.

However the Welshman drew inspiration from Barcelona’s overturning of a 4-0 first leg deficit in the Champions League to win 6-5 on aggregate against Paris St Germain as he took a fine solo victory.

“It was a massive disappointment yesterday,” Thomas said of the team time trial. “We came here to win the GC, with myself and Landa with a two-pronged attack, so that was massively disappointing for how it ended yesterday.

“We saw the Barcelona result last night and that shows anything can happen in sport. We wanted to be aggressive and race every day as best. I had my chance today and I was lucky to finish it off.”

>>> Team Sky wheel sponsor issues response to Gianni Moscon’s dramatic Tirreno crash

Thomas attacked in the undulating Tuscan hills. He first marked Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) then attacked, at 4.8 kilometres remaining, to pull away Jungels, overall leader Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) and Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar). Not happy with his companions, he surged free with 3.9 kilometres remaining, maintaining his advantage on the final kilometre kick into Pomarance.

It was his first win since the Paris-Nice overall last March and his first win in Italy in an 11-year professional career. He gained time bonus and a handful of seconds on the favourites, like Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), but not enough to think of the overall classification when the race ends Tuesday along Italy’s east coast.

“Barcelona start from scratch in the quarter finals, we don’t. But never say never,” Thomas said. “The thing is to try to keep race aggressively every day and try to take wins.

“We have Elia Viviani for the sprint tomorrow and other guys for the mountain top finish. I’m not thinking of the GC now but if something happens, fantastic. But I’m just treating it as a good chance to race for stages.”

>>> Geraint Thomas ‘frustrated’ and ‘annoyed’ by Team Sky press coverage

Thomas could ride clear on the 16.1-kilometre climb to Monte Terminillo, where Quintana won in a snow storm two years ago. If he gained enough time, he could perhaps re-join the overall classification hunt.

Chris Froome is watching closely. Thomas helped him win the Tour de France three times and decided to switch focus to winning the Giro d’Italia this May before going to the Tour.

The two trained together for two weeks at altitude in South Africa last month. It was the first time that Thomas spent such a long time alone with is long-time team-mate and cycling’s grand tour star.

“I’ve raced in all three of his wins, you learn the most there when the pressure is on,” Thomas said. “Then training with him in the last month too, it pushes you every day, you are always testing yourself against him, there’s no other better training partner.”

Yesterday, Froome sent Thomas a message after seeing the team’s disastrous time trial. Gianni Moscon hit a hole in the road and his carbon front wheel collapse in pieces. The team was forced to wait as it lost others to wheel problems as well.

They did not speak about the parliament and UKAD investigation into Team Sky and British Cycling.

>>> Everything you need to know about the British Cycling/Sky mystery package saga

“I haven’t spoken to Froomey actually. Yesterday, it was about what happened in the stage, saying sorry and things. I haven’t spoken with him about that [the Team Sky situation].”

He explained that it was the same with Dave Brailsford, the team’s founder and boss. Yesterday, Brailsford arrived in central Italy to watch Landa and Thomas race together.

“He showed up just before the team time trial and he shook my hand and said thanks for yesterday [for the Twitter support]. That was it, we didn’t speak but focused on the race. After race, there was a lot of other stuff going with wheels and stuff.”

There had been reports that Brailsford may be forced to step down. Then on Tuesday, Sky and Brailsford issued a response to UKAD’s comments and the parliament’s inquiry. Thomas saw the document, but said that he is in “a bubble” and is “trying to lose weight and get fit.”

“The riders speak to each other, but it’s more about… It’s nothing to do with us. It is indirectly because we are in Team Sky, but it’s more an issue for the management and the medical team,” he explained.

“They put this document together but we didn’t see it until it came out. I haven’t read it all. Six pages is quite a lot to read. I’ve just got confidence in the team and that’s that.”


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André Greipel storms to Paris-Nice 2017 stage five win

German powerhouse André Greipel makes the most of the last sprint stage of 2017 Paris-Nice as the race heads into the mountains

André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) used his experience and power to navigate through a tricky finish to win stage five of 2017 Paris-Nice on Thursday.

Several of the sprinters’ trains were disrupted on the run-in to Bourg-de-Péage after a series of roundabouts, turns and a draggy rise into a headwind to the line.

Greipel put himself into the perfect position in the scrappy bunch sprint finale to win by over a bike length ahead of former race leader Arnaud Démare (FDJ), with Dutch champion Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) in third.

Overnight race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) finished in the peloton to retain his position in the yellow jersey. The Frenchman leads compatriot Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) by 33 seconds overall, with Spaniard Gorka Izagirre (Movistar) in third at 47 seconds.

>>> Paris-Nice 2017: Latest news, reports and info

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Alaphilippe, as he momentarily lost contact with the front group after the peloton split as a result of a crash just inside the final 20km.

As the two parts of the peloton rejoined, they soon after caught the remnants of the day’s escape group, which had comprised Axel Domont (Ag2r), Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), Federico Zurlo (UAE Team Emirates) and Remy di Gregorio (Delko-Marseille) after they attacked in the opening kilometres.

As various teams moved to the front of the race, some squads became fragmented due to the number and size of the roundabouts. At one point, Alaphilippe tagged himself onto the back of the Katusha team at the front of the bunch, evidently mindful of the earlier incident.

In among all the chaos, Greipel did not panic. Positioning himself perfectly in the finale and using his strength to burst ahead of his rivals into the headwind and take the victory – his third of the year, and first in a 2017 WorldTour race.

Thursday’s stage represented the last chance for the sprinters to go for a win, as the race heads into more mountainous terrain. Friday’s stage six runs for 193.5km from Aubagne to Fayence and includes six categorised climbs, including a final second category ascent to the line.

It will be a stern test for Alaphilippe, as the 24-year-old leads a major stage race in his home nation with the weight of expectation on his shoulders. Paris-Nice has not been won by a Frenchman since Laurent Jalabert in 1997.

Result

Paris-Nice 2017, stage five: Quincié-en-Beaujolais to Bourg-de-Péage, 199.5km
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Soudal
2. Arnaud Démare (Fra) FDJ
3. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
4. Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
5. John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
6. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-Scott
7. Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors
8. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
9. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
10. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe, all same time
Other
13. Ben Swift (GBr) UAE Team Emirates
14. Dan McLay (GBr) Fortuneo-Vital Concept
19. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors, at same time

General classification after stage five
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors, in 17-20-02
2. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal, at 33 secs
3. Gorka Izagirre (Esp) Movistar, at 47 secs
4. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, at 1-05
5. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors, at 1-20
6. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, at 1-24
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin, at 1-28
8. Arnaud Démare (Fra) FDJ, at 1-29
9. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-31
10. Rudy Molard (Fra) FDJ, at 1-32
Other
15. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott, at 2-16


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Why the Team Sky saga is not big news outside Britain… for now

Recent events surrounding Team Sky and British Cycling may have dominated British headlines, but the story has not appealed to continental news outlets, who says it’s ‘complicated’

The Team Sky saga dominates the headlines at home in Great Britain, but abroad, newspapers and readers have yet to fully embrace the news. Foreign journalists say that could change as further details emerge and as the Tour de France approaches.

Parliament and the UK Anti-Doping Agency are looking into wrong-doing and doping claims in Team Sky and British Cycling. Already, UKAD blasted Sky’s Doctor Richard Freeman in a select committee hearing. Others have suggested that team founder and boss David Brailsford should step down.

“The story doesn’t have much sex appeal in Flanders,” Het Laatste Nieuws journalist Marc Ghyselinck told Cycling Weekly.

“The readers care, but it’s far from what they think of as cycling in Flanders. This is a complicated story as it is with Doctor Richard Freeman, a 2011 mystery package… It’s quite complicated. It’s not rider A positive for product B.”

>>> Everything you need to know about the British Cycling/Sky mystery package saga

On Monday, the Belgian newspaper led one of its pages with the Sunday Times‘s story on Team Sky. That occupied one-third of a page in their five-page cycling coverage devoted mostly to the upcoming classics.

Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford. Photo: Graham Watson

“At the moment, it doesn’t get that much coverage because it’s a weird scandal, not a doping case scandal, so it’s a little too complicated for the average German fan,” explained Felix Mattis of Rad-Sport News.

“However, I think it’s going to change heading to the Tour de France. If it goes on like this, then it’ll be a big topic because all the big German media will be covering cycling and they will ask what Sky is doing, or was doing.”

The pink Italian daily sports newspaper, La Gazzetta dello Sport ran two news items in the last 10 days.

“We haven’t done much on it,” journalist Paolo Marabini said. “Our impression is that there needs to be something concrete. And maybe because there aren’t Italian cyclists involved. It is all around Bradley Wiggins, who’s an ex-cyclist, so there’s not so much push from us to go deeper.


Watch: UKAD chief executive Nicole Sapstead in front of MPs


“However, we followed every step of the Lampre Mantova investigation because that was an Italian team. We printed elements from the case that others didn’t have. We had someone there at the prosecutor’s office and in every hearing.”

With speculation this week that Brailsford could be forced out of team Sky, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf printed an interview with Sky’s Wout Poels on the subject.

>>> Team Sky chair backs Dave Brailsford as team hits back at ‘inaccurate’ and ‘untrue’ assumptions

“When the team started, when David Brailsford arrived, they talked about a different way of cycling, doing everything differently than the Armstrong period, that they would have full transparency, but now look, like everyone in sport, they are searching in the grey area,” De Telegraaf‘s Raymond Kerckhoffs said. “In my eyes, Sky has lost its halo in this.

“However, there is nothing that says that Sky dopes. If you have to fire David Brailsford, then I know many other team managers that have to be fired too.”


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‘Cav is pushing me to get results in the big races’

Dimension Data new recruit Scott Thwaites has been getting tips from team-mate Mark Cavendish ahead of the spring classics

Scott Thwaites is heading towards the classics this spring with a new enthusiasm, and encouragement from new Dimension Data team-mate Mark Cavendish.

They previewed the final kilometres of the Milan-San Remo course on Monday and began rooming together in Tirreno-Adriatico this week.

“It’s good, he’s a great guy,” Thwaites told Cycling Weekly ahead of Tirreno-Adriatico stage two.

“Rooming with him is great, you pick up so many small bits just through conversation. He’s just a great guy to motivate you for races. Obviously, these are all big races, WorldTour races and he’s trying to push me to improve myself so I have the confidence to go for results in these bigger races.”

>>> Exclusive: Scott Thwaites to ride for Dimension Data in 2017

The Yorkshireman spoke quietly outside the team bus in Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy. Behind him, one by one, his team-mates including Cavendish lifted their bike from the stand and rode to sign-in for stage two.

Thwaites has raced the last seven seasons for Bora/Endura, which was then a UCI Professional Continental team. He signed with Doug Ryder’s South African Dimension Data team over the winter, which means the ability to concentrate more on the big one-day races.

Scott Thwaites in 2017 Strade Bianche. Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

With the idea that he may race Milan-San Remo for the first time next Saturday, the team invited him along with Cavendish and Edvald Boasson Hagen to preview the Cipressa and Poggio climbs leading to seaside finish.

“He’s giving me little tips on how to ride in the group, saving energy. Like riding in San Remo: what to look for and when to move, and things like that. It’s all little bits of knowledge that help you save energy during the day,” he explained.

“He knows the roads, the descents, the corners, and everything like that, because that’s where it can often split more than on the climbs.”

Dimension Data’s Rolf Aldag and Roger Hammond have yet to give him the green light, but Thwaites could race Milan-San Remo and in the northern classics like Ghent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Last year, he placed eighth in Dwars door Vlaanderen and 20th in the Tour of Flanders.

This year, he already signalled his intentions by clawing his way back through Strade Bianche’s gravel sectors after a crash and placing 10th in Siena.

“I feel that that was a nice start and it was good to get a decent result in early to take some of the pressure off. It does give you confidence, especially the way I rode, I felt strong and started to come through a bit towards the end of the race,” the 27-year-old added.

“It’s obviously a bit shorter than the main classics, but it was nice to have some strength left at the end and pull through. I hope that that helps for the next few races.”


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How less than an hour of cycling a week can help slow the ageing process

Study shows how high intensity exercise can stop your cells from ageing

If you don’t get out on your bike quite as much as you’d like, then researchers in the US have some good news, as cycling for just 52 minutes per week could help to slow the ageing process.

In a study of 45 young (18-30 years) and 27 older (65-80 years) people, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that short bursts of high intensity cycling slowed the ageing process within cells by improving the ability of mitochondria to produce energy, therefore preventing frailty. This effect was particularly seen in the older test group.

>>> Only riding at the weekends is just as good as riding all week, study finds

Of course this doesn’t just mean 57 minutes of any old pedalling, and you have to do some pretty specific interval training to get the desired effect.

The researchers used a form of high intensity interval training, with the study’s participants doing three cycling sessions a week consisting of four sets of four minute intervals at near-maximal effort followed by three minutes of pedalling at no load. This was complemented by two 45 minute walks.


Watch: Top three nutrition mistake amateurs make

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/?bctid=4944265195001 http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/?bctid=4942576902001


The high intensity cycling also helped participants in the study to burn more fat, although muscle strength, which also declines with age, was improved more by weight training.

>>> Don’t drink so much water during exercise, new reseach says

For this reason Dr Sreekumaran Nair, a senior author in the study, said that although high intensity cycling was the best form of exercise, he would recommend a combination of different exercises.

“If people have to pick one exercise, I would recommend high-intensity interval training, but I think it would be more beneficial if they could do three to four days of interval training and then a couple days of strength training.”


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WADA considers complete ban of hay fever drug used by Bradley Wiggins

Use of drug open to abuse under TUE system, according to WADA director general

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is considering introducing a blanket ban on the use of corticosteroids, such as the drug used by Bradley Wiggins before his 2012 Tour de France victory.

Speaking at the Tackling Doping in Sport conference, WADA director general Oliver Niggli said that his organisation had set up a working group to examine the use of triamcinolone and other corticosteroids in sport, saying that the current system is open to abuse.

“It is an unsatisfactory situation, we all agree with that,” Niggli said “and we have set up a group to try to come up with better proposal to how we can do it.

>>> Team Sky doctor prevented Richard Freeman from applying for a fourth Bradley Wiggins TUE

“The hope has been for a number of years that research would bring us a detection method that would distinguish the route of administration. Reality is that it doesn’t seem that easy to come up with a method to allow us to do that distinction.

“We are now at a stage where we needed to have a number of discussions about how we deal with that. In my view, I agree the system as it is now is not good.

“In fact, only those who are being honest about what they have been doing get caught. Otherwise, you always say, ‘It was a cream’, and you get away with it.”


Watch: Nicole Sapstead gives evidence to MPs


Wiggins received therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for triamcinolone prior to the 2011 and 2012 Tours de France and the 2013 Giro d’Italia, meaning that he was allowed to take this otherwise banned drug to treat asthma and hay fever, which Wiggins said put him “back on a level playing field”.

However David Millar, who was banned for doping offences in 2004, claimed that as well as treating asthma and hay fever, the drug has the effect of reducing a rider’s weight without them losing power.

>>> MPs will not question Bradley Wiggins over medical package and TUEs

The news of the WADA’s decision to examine the issue of corticosteroids was welcomed by Nicole Sapstead, the chair of UK Anti-Doping.

“If they were to introduce an outright ban then great,” Sapstead told the Telegraph.

“Our view is that they [corticosteroids] aren’t always being administered in a way that’s reflective of an individual’s actual medical needs and that can’t be right when somebody doesn’t actually have a medical problem that warrants that use because it then has some additional effects that they can benefit from.”

No time frame has been given for the working group to reach its conclusions.


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British team for 2017 Track World Championships revealed: 10 riders make Worlds debut

As some of the big British track names sit out the 2017 World Championships after the Olympics, emerging talent gets a chance to gain experience

Ten British riders will make their Track World Championships debut in Hong Kong over April 12-16, as British Cycling has named its squad for the 2017 event.

The 20 selected riders feature a mix of experience and youth, as some of the big names from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games sit the event out.

As expected, both Laura and Jason Kenny miss the event, as does team pursuit linchpin Ed Clancy, as they take a break from top-level track competition.

>>> Laura Kenny announces she’s expecting with cryptic Instagram post

Four Olympic champions will be in attendance: Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Steven Burke and Callum Skinner.

“The team is made up of a good mix of experienced and developing riders across all the disciplines,” said Great Britain head coach Iain Dyer.

“Throughout the earlier world cups and at the UEC European Track Championships last year, there was a good opportunity to bring some new riders into the front line. They gave a really good account of themselves and that’s reflected in the selections we’ve made today. I’m looking forward to seeing them step up into World Championship level competition.”

Dyer says that in a championships free of concern for collecting Olympic qualification points, the riders will have a chance to take part in events that they might not normally get an opportunity to ride in. It will also provide an opportunity to try out the revised omnium event, which has now dropped all the individual rounds in favour of four mass-start rounds.

“This year’s worlds will allow them to race different events which were not possible in previous years due to the focus on the Olympic events,” said Dyer.

“This is particularly true for the endurance riders who can broaden their experience in the new format omnium plus the Madison, which both have the potential to feature in the Tokyo 2020 track cycling programme. It’s a great experience for our younger riders to make their debut performances alongside such established athletes and I’m sure they will learn a lot from this opportunity.”

Great Britain team for the 2017 Track World Championships

Women’s endurance
Katie Archibald
Elinor Barker
Ellie Dickinson
Neah Evans
Emily Kay
Manon Lloyd
Emily Nelson

Men’s endurance
Matt Bostock
Steven Burke
Kian Emadi
Chris Latham
Mark Stewart
Andy Tennant
Oliver Wood

Sprint
Jack Carlin
Katy Marchant
Lewis Oliva
Ryan Owens
Callum Skinner
Joe Truman


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Dr Hutch: Celebrating the terrible cycling kit of the 1990s

Dr Hutch dons his dark glasses and sifts through the dazzling cycling fashion crimes of the late 20th century

I spent the early weeks of the season half-heartedly watching the races from the Middle East. Such uniformity. So much that is drab and hard to get excited about. And that’s just the 2017 kit designs.

There has been an outbreak of style in cycling over the last few years. Jerseys are designed by professionals, using a sensible selection of colours chosen to complement the sponsors’ logos.

But for decades cycling was the sport that taste forgot. Cyclists were the people of the Day-Glo damnation. In the 1990s and early 2000s jerseys were terrible beyond imagining. The question was never so much “What colours are on it?” as “What colours aren’t on it?”

>>> Dr Hutch: Revealing the identity of my greatest cycling rival

A friend whose misreading of a party invitation once left him with 10 minutes to find a fancy dress outfit solved his problem by throwing on some Polti team kit and claiming he was a fat Djamolidine Abdoujaparov.

When he arrived his hostess greeted him with, “Oh, gosh, how wonderful! You’ve come as a migraine!” He could have worn any 1990s kit with the same result. If you really fancy a laugh google the kit for the Chazal team. It was like a test card for a TV channel that specialised in covering nuclear wars.

To design a 1990s cycling kit, you discarded any colours found in nature. Then you found one of those colour-wheels that show how colours can be used to complement each other, and you burned it at midnight under a full moon.

You remembered that stripes and checks famously don’t work together, not unless you have spots too. And then you produced four totally different jersey patterns, and overlaid them all onto a single design.

Loud and proud
Only then did you apply the logos of your sponsors. Main sponsor across the chest, minor sponsors (and what an awful lot of them there used to be) wherever the hell you liked, and at any orientation. Did you want to put a logo on upside down? You could knock yourself out. The image you were after was that of a collage created by four different five-year-olds.

I always wondered if the idea was that by avoiding any hint of visual harmony the logos would stand out better. But the logic is more likely to have been, “Hey, Luigi, let’s get this over with and we won’t have to come back after lunch.”

The tragedy is that we all used to wear this stuff. A 1997 club run looked like a cross-section through the previous 15 years’ Tours de France — and outside the context of a sun-drenched July afternoon it all looked a thousand times more dreadful.

>>> The 25 worst pro cycling kits of all time

We wore it because it was cheap. You could get a jersey, shorts, socks(!), cap and mitts by mail order for about £20. Motorola was a little more, because it was halfway to acceptable. Mercatone Uno was a bit less because, Marco Pantani notwithstanding, it was totally horrendous.

Shades of promise
Now? Well, Astana’s 2017 kit does have a hint of the colour-fade paintwork a 12-year-old boy might plan for when he grows up and customises his first Corsa. And Ag2r is still ploughing along on the old 1970s wallpaper theme (with the brown shorts), as if they can bring a whole era back into fashion by sheer determination. But otherwise, most big teams are quite restrained.

In truth, to say I miss the old days would be a small exaggeration. Certainly the stuff was distinctive, and it gave you a sort of identity, but it’s too easy to be nostalgic about it. It’s up there with the worst clothes ever created.

And I dread to think of the damage all of us did to the lasting image of cycling in the UK as we lumbered around the lanes in it.


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2017 Paris-Nice stage 4 highlights – Video

Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) put in a stunning effort in the stage 4 time trial of Paris-Nice to win the complicated 14.5km test and swap the white jersey of best young rider for yellow.

The Frenchman is now poised to become the first French winner of the Race to the Sun since Laurent Jalabert’s last victory 20 years ago, with a 33-second lead on compatriot Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) and 47 seconds over Gorka Izagirre (Movistar).

Alaphilippe, who impressed in his second neo-pro year with three runner-up finishes in the Ardennes Classics and claimed the overall Tour of California last year, topped Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) by 19 seconds, with Gallopin third at 20 seconds.

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Lance Armstrong: ‘I admire those people who didn’t dope’

Former rider also talks of his renewed love for cycling

Lance Armstrong has spoken of his admiration for cyclists in the 1990s and early 2000s who, unlike him, chose not to take performance-enhancing drugs.

Speaking on the Howard Stern Show, Armstrong said that he decided to take EPO when it became clear that that was what was necessary in order to win, and that he recognised that those riders who chose not to take drugs had often suffered as a result.

“We held out as long as we could against EPO,” Armstrong said. “I’m not trying to justify my decision, but I left the US to go to Europe and I wanted to win.

“We had a choice and not everyone made the choices we made, and I admire those people who didn’t [make the same choices], and instead had to go home or leave the sport.”

>>> Lance Armstrong: I still put in the hard work, and I hope people don’t forget that

Armstrong also echoed what he said in a podcast in February, saying that his return to the sport in 2009 was a mistake.

“Had I stopped riding in 2005 then it would have been over. The comeback from was the bridge to the past. That’s what made the story relevant and gave the authorities the possibility to catch me.”

Armstrong went on to explain how he had no problem with people who disliked him for his doping, but said that he is most ashamed of the way he defended himself against accusations of doping throughout his career.

“We live in an age where people don’t have to come up to your face to give you s***. In fact that’s never happened in the last five years, but they’ve got plenty of other channels to say stuff.

“And to the guy that says something on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, I say ‘I understand. I totally get it.’

“When I look back at it, the way I acted with the vehement denials and the way I went about defending myself… my ultimate torture would be if someone forced me to sit in front of a laptop and watch some of those press conferences. I was such a dick.

“But I can’t change that. If somebody were to come up to me and say something then I’d just shake their hand and say ‘I’m sorry’.

“I think people can get their minds around the doping, but they can’t excuse the way I acted. That was by far the worse part.”

>>> Cannondale pro impressed by Lance Armstrong’s strength during 110 mile training rides

The disgraced former rider has recently competed in a 24 hour mountain bike race with three of his former US Postal team-mates, as well as riding with Lawson Craddock a current pro with Cannondale-Drapac .

According to Armstrong’s Strava profile, he is now riding for around 10 hours most weeks, a big change from a few years ago when he was mostly running, something that Armstrong says is down to falling in love with cycling again.

“I still try to ride every day. I fell out of love with the sport – for three or four years I hated cycling because of what my life has looked like for the last four or five years.

“I had hard feelings towards the sport, towards the industry, towards the fans, towards the media… And they had hard feelings too. Everyone was pissed off.”

“So I went back to running and swimming – the sports that I grew up doing. But the last six months I’ve started biking again, and I’ve been falling back in love with it.”

Off the bike Armstrong is facing the prospect of a $100m lawsuit brought against him by former team-mate Floyd Landis and the US Justice Department, with the trial due to take place in November,


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