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RAGBRAI — where Armstrong is still welcome

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Disgraced pro cyclist Lance Armstrong is returning to the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) next Sunday when more than 20,000 cyclists pull out of Rock Valley for the cross-state ride.

In 2011, Armstrong poses with Livestrong Army at RAGBRAI

In 2011, Armstrong poses with Livestrong Army at RAGBRAI

It’s one of the few places he’s felt comfortable after authorities stripped him of 7 Tour de France titles for doping.

This will be Armstrong’s sixth RAGBRAI. The 42-year-old started riding in the longest-running cross-state bike tour after he first retired from cycling to raise money for his cancer charity.

After those first couple of years, some riders called Armstrong’s attendance a distraction; the ride could be renamed LAGBRAI for all the attention Armstrong received. Still, riders describe a swelling roar of cheering as Armstrong and his small cadre of cyclists plowed past other riders along the route.

The Des Moines Register reports that, after all of Armstrong’s troubles surfaced, ride director T.J. Juskiewicz told him he was still welcome to ride in RAGBRAI. Armstrong said:



“Twenty-four months ago, there certainly were no welcome mats. … T.J. was literally, no he was the first guy to say, ‘You’re family, we support you, we forgive you and the welcome mat is out.’ … The reality is, the more and more time goes by, there are more welcome mats. But you never forget the person who put the first one out — and that was RAGBRAI.”

Armstrong has lost his titles, sponsorships, and court battles since the doping accusations stuck. Still, he hopes to one day regain some measure of respectability.

“My path back, if there ever is one — and I don’t know if there is — is through things like RAGBRAI or a charitable bike ride or just some other unofficial, unsanctioned gathering of athletes.” 

Off the bike at RAGBRAI, Armstrong plans to volunteer as a bartender at a street party in Rock Valley the night before the ride starts. The party seeks to raise funds to help people stricken by flooding in the community.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2014/07/13/ragbrai-where-armstrong-is-still-welcome/

5 comments

  1. Grateful

    One quick correction to the statement int the 2nd paragraph ;

    “Authorities” did not strip Lance of anything. Cycling has NO “authorities”, only ONLY Mafia businessmen – as with all things where money and pseudo-power are involved.

    They were

  2. Grateful

    One quick correction to the statement int the 2nd paragraph ;

    “Authorities” did not strip Lance of anything. Cycling has NO “authorities”, only ONLY Mafia businessmen – as with all things where money and pseudo-power are involved.

    They were ALL doping and Lance STILL WON. He was unquestionably the BEST doper AND the BEST cyclist.

    He’s still the WINNER and will be forever.

  3. Townes

    Well, I might forgive a child molester too, but I would not invite him/her back into my home.

  4. PbButt(leadbutt)

    Comment about child molester really uncalled for. I know how horrific that is. No parallel between the two! Not even close! I have previously read the full text of the Reasoned Decision and am aware of the lies and manipulations. Also aware of his Cancer fund raising, which after losing two brothers and numerous friends to this dreaded disease, allows me to forgive him, once he fessed up. (What else could he do with the weight of proof) His life is upside down, as is often the case from serial liars, and he remains potentially liable to lose every penny he earned. BUT, The excitement he provided with his epic duels with other TDF pros, most of elite riders also dopers, was nothing short of amazing athletic theater. His exploits inspired whole generations to discover or rediscover the sport of cycling. I look forward to having him pour me a beer in Rock Valley on Saturday raising funds for the fine folks of Rock Valley.

  5. lance

    I ran into him on day one of RAGBRAI again this year. He was keeping a lower profile than he did last year and was not riding particularly fast. His entourage was down to one other rider. I tagged along for a few miles. People seemed very excited to see him.

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