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Lance back in the saddle -

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Lance back in the saddle

The World Today - Thursday, 25 September , 2008 12:47:00

Reporter: Nance Haxton

ELEANOR HALL: Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong has confirmed that he will make his official
comeback to cycling at the South Australian Pro Tour event.

Race organisers and the Premier Mike Rann have barely been able to contain their delight.

But some commentators are expressing concern that having such a high profile sportsman could change
the friendly tone of the event.

In Adelaide, Nance Haxton reports.

NANCE HAXTON: Lance Armstrong says he couldn't think of a better place to start his global campaign
against cancer and make his career comeback.

LANCE ARMSTRONG: By racing the bicycle all over the world, beginning in Australia, ending in
France, at the global summit, it is the best way to promote this initiative. It's the best way to
get the word out.

This is a campaign. This is a campaign to spread the word, create awareness and ultimately and
hopefully save lives.

NANCE HAXTON: ABC cycling commentator John Thompson-Mills says snaring Lance Armstrong is an
enormous coup for Adelaide.

JOHN THOMPSON-MILLS: To have him here, it is going to be a huge say circus, and that will have its
good and bad things. There will be a lot more people here from interstate, possibly overseas,
massive media interest, there's no question about that.

NANCE HAXTON: Last year South Australia edged out China, California and Russia to become the first
place outside of Europe to gain Pro Tour status for its cycling event - the Tour Down Under.

Cycling commentators say the status of the tour would have been a large drawcard for the cycling

But whatever his reasons for coming, Lance Armstrong's appearance will help silence those who say
nothing happens in Adelaide.

South Australia may have lost out to Victoria in securing the Grand Prix, but the Premier Mike Rann
has found something else to smile about.

MIKE RANN: We expect it to quadruple the international media coverage of the event which will be
worth well over $100-million to see a visitation rate from interstate and overseas that will match
or even possibly exceed those who came to the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

NANCE HAXTON: Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur says Lance Armstrong's presence will cement
the tour's place as a world class event.

MIKE TURTUR: This guy is bigger than cycling in terms of what he's done. As far as an athlete is
concerned he's a superstar for sport throughout the world. This is to me the biggest thing that's
happened in sport in South Australia.

NANCE HAXTON: Celebrity spotters are just as elated at the prospect of Lance Armstrong's visit. The
world class cyclist has a list of well known ex-girlfriends and now the speculation is rife about
which Hollywood actress may accompany him in January.

The only concern expressed so far is the enormous amount of security that the 37-year-old Texan
will bring with him as part of his entourage.

John Thompson-Mills says the tone of the Tour Down Under will certainly be different.

JOHN THOMPSON-MILLS: When cyclists come here, you can have a coffee with them on the parade or at
King William Street, wherever the race might be starting or finishing, and mingle with them in the
tour village. They're very accessible.

Now I'm sure when Lance Armstrong comes, there will be security. He will have people, he will have
minders and he may not be as accessible as a Stuart O'Grady or a Gilberto Simoni or any of the
other big names that have been here over the years who do, because it's early season, they're

I mean, he'll have a posse with him and that may alter the perceptions that some people have about
the race. But at the end of the day, there's still a bike race to be had and that will always be a
good thing.

ELEANOR HALL: ABC cycling commentator John Thompson-Mills speaking to Nance Haxton.