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Armstrong rules out victory in comeback race

LANCE Armstrong has dismissed talk of a fairytale comeback to professional cycling at the Tour Down Under in Australia.

The seven-time Tour de France winner insisted he had no real hope of winning the week-long race in South Australia and his only real ambition was to be competitive.

"I think it would be unrealistic to expect a victory," the American told a news conference in Adelaide today.

"The race has gotten harder and harder over the years.

"I hope to be in the mix, I could be completely wrong, I might be the first guy dropped."

Armstrong quit professional cycling after the 2005 Tour de France but announced late last year he was making a comeback at age 37 to help promote cancer awareness.

A survivor of testicular cancer, Armstrong chose the Tour Down Under to launch his comeback and his participation has generated unprecedented interest in the race.

He arrived in Australia under the sort of tight security normally reserved for heads of state before fronting a packed news conference.

Armstrong said there had been times when he questioned the sanity of his decision to make a comeback but was driven by his desire to help cancer sufferers.

"For me it's not so much a sporting challenge, and it's not a financial challenge, it's not any of those things," he said.

"I came back as a volunteer and so I'm here for the love of the bike and the passion of the cause."

Despite ruling out his prospects of actually winning the race, Armstrong said he had not lost his competitive instinct and had trained as hard as ever to get himself in shape for the January 18-25 event.

"I've prepared much harder this series of months than I ever would have in the past," he said.

"The tests that we do on the bike, or on the road, or in the lab indicate that my January fitness is much better than it ever was the years when I was winning the Tour.

"But that doesn't mean anything until you get into the race."


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