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Lance Armstrong confirms Tour Down Under farewell

Lance Armstrong will race for the last time outside the United States in January when he makes an international farewell appearance at the Tour Down Under.

The seven-time Tour de France champion confirmed he will attend the season opener set for January 16-23 in what will be his third consecutive appearance in the Australian race.

“I’m excited to be competing in my last professional ride outside the U.S. at the Tour Down Under,” Armstrong said in a statement. “It will be my third time to the event and I’m sure I will enjoy it as much as I have the first two times.”

Armstrong, 39, has not raced since the 2010 Tour, yet hinted he would likely get back on the bike for a few select races in 2011.

In addition to the Tour Down Under, Armstrong is expected to race in the Tour of California in May and perhaps the new Quizno’s Tour in Colorado slated for August, though neither of those appearances have been officially confirmed.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann said the benefits of bringing Armstrong back to the race will be well worth the investment. Local officials have come under fire for reportedly paying Armstrong a $2 million appearance fee in past editions.

“This will be Lance Armstrong’s last professional ride anywhere in the planet other than the United States,” Rann said. “It’s a great coup for us that he’ll be riding with RadioShack here in Adelaide, it’ll attract massive worldwide interest.”

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