Lance Armstrong says he will retire after Tour de FranceApril 18, 2005
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Lance Armstrong will retire from professional cycling after this summer's Tour de France, ending one of the great careers in all sports.
``Ultimately, athletes have to retire ... the body doesn't just keep going and going,'' Armstrong said Monday at a news conference.
The 33-year-old Texan will attempt to win his record seventh straight Tour de France in July. Before Armstrong, Miguel Indurain's five straight Tour de France wins were the record.
Eddy Merckx of Belgium and Bernard Hinault and Jacques Anquetil of France are the only other riders to win five Tour de France races overall.
Armstrong's streak of six straight titles, along with his inspirational recovery from testicular cancer, has made him a superstar in the sport and an international celebrity.
Armstrong's possible retirement plans had become the focus of growing speculation as he spoke in recent months that he wants to spend more time with his three children and in his campaign against cancer.
Armstrong says he is ``100 percent committed'' to his decision to retire and that he will not be participating in any other races after July 24 -- the scheduled end of the Tour de France.
The announcement came on the eve of Armstrong's defense of his Tour de Georgia championship. The six-day, 648-mile event he uses as a training tool for the Tour de France begins Tuesday.
His new two-year contract to race for the Discovery Channel team requires he compete in just one more Tour de France.
``I was fortunate to win six times. Can I win again this year? I'm not sure, but I'm going to try,'' he said. ``It's my ambition to win and also a little bit of my job to win.''
He has said previously if he retires he would amplify his high-profile role as a cancer survivor. Armstrong's relationship with rock star Sheryl Crow has also made him the focus of the tabloids and paparazzi. ``Sheryl, you've been an amazing woman. For someone who is the queen of rock n' roll, you've been a great cycling fan ... a great teammate,'' he said.