Armstrong responds to Lemond's comments during victory tour

Credit: Al Bello/Allsport
NEW YORK (AP) - Surprised and upset, Lance Armstrong picked up the phone and called Greg LeMond when he saw the comments.

"Greg, you're one of my heroes and I wouldn't be here without you and I was surprised to see that,'' Armstrong said Thursday, recalling his conversation.

LeMond's remarks were hardly ringing endorsements by one American Tour de France champion for another, by someone who has won the race three times for someone who has won it three times in a row.

LeMond has a problem with Armstrong's association with the Italian doctor, Michele Ferrari, linked to drug use in sports - and he said so.

LeMond told the Guardian, a London newspaper, "In the light of Lance's relationship with Ferrari, I just don't want to comment on this year's Tour. This is not sour grapes. I'm just disappointed in Lance.''

Armstrong has defended his ties to Ferrari, whose name has been linked to the drug EPO. However, Armstrong said he would "re-evaluate'' his relationship if the physician is found guilty of wrongdoing in a drug inquiry under way in Italy.

"I was upset, I was surprised more than anything,'' Armstrong said, referring to LeMond's remarks.

There was no apology, he said.

Asked if he though LeMond was bitter, Armstrong said, "I don't know.''

The Texan, whose body was ravaged by testicular cancer, has never tested positive for any banned substances and said Ferrari has never discussed any drugs with him.

Armstrong made his comments during a two-day media tour, which included appearances at David Letterman's show, a New York Yankees game and U.S. Postal Services office with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Armstrong spent part of Thursday on a bicycle, taking an impromptu ride through Central Park, before heading to Washington on Friday to meet with President Bush.

Armstrong, who still is tested regularly for cancer, said he was already looking forward to next year, but would make no predictions about more victories. No one has one more than five.

"I hope I can be smart enough and intelligent enough to walk away when it's time, and I hope I can say a record or number of victories won't motivate my decision to keep forcing something that doesn't want to be forced,'' he said.

Of course, his current desire to race isn't forced, and the 29-year-old Armstrong said he wasn't really entertaining any thoughts of doing anything else.

But when he does stop pedaling, "I don't want to have any bitterness toward the sport, I don't want to have any bitterness toward the new generation. ... I hope I have the class to do that.''

Armstrong and wife Kristin are expecting twin girls in December and plan to spend more time in Austin, Texas, preparing for their arrival.

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