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Lance Armstrong the Comeback King: A new man?

He may be residing at the Hilton this week, but besides being American, that’s all Lance Armstrong has in common with the party-going daughter of the famous hotel empire, who, on her recent New Year’s trip Down Under, had sand thrown in her face when she took a stroll on the sands of Bondi Beach.

By Anthony Tan

2009 Tour Down Under, Cancer Council Crit: Is Lance a New Man?

2009 Tour Down Under, Cancer Council Crit: Is Lance a New Man?

Photo: Graham Watson

He may be residing at the Hilton this week, but besides being American, that’s all Lance Armstrong has in common with the party-going daughter of the famous hotel empire, who, on her recent New Year’s trip Down Under, had sand thrown in her face when she took a stroll on the sands of Bondi Beach.

No, last Sunday evening Armstrong was clapped and cheered — never jeered — by thousands upon thousands of adoring fans (official figures say 138,000) who stood ten-deep in places around the 1.7 kilometer Rymill Park circuit, emphatically banging the barricades in homage to the legend that is Lance.

2009 Tour Down Under, Cancer Council Crit: Armstrong signs in.

2009 Tour Down Under, Cancer Council Crit: Armstrong signs in.

Photo: Agence France Presse

Just before the race, South Australian Premier Mike Rann likened the comeback to that of Mohammed Ali and Michael Jordan — even speculating that it could even be in a class of its own.

Tuesday’s 140km undulating run from Norwood to Mawson Lakes, held in a region not too far north of Adelaide city, was more to the seven-time Tour winner’s liking.

“With the preparation we’ve put in to get to this point, the only thing I can point to is a little bit more stiffness and soreness, which I suppose is normal for somebody in their upper 30s,” said Armstrong. “But the recovery is good, the power is good. I don’t want to say I feel the same as I did in my early 30s but I’m not far off, I feel pretty strong.”

So what would constitute failure?

“Failure would be a broken collarbone or obviously if I was the first guy dropped on Tuesday that would be a failure; that would not be good,” he said modestly.

From the typical, precocious, know-it-all — to a still brash though humbled one-of-a-kind cancer survivor and seven-time Tour de France winner — and now, to Comeback King of Cycling who some have awarded the moniker ‘Lance 3.0’ — this new Armstrong appears to be a man transformed.

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