Lance Armstrong has formally retired from cycling ... again. The famous athlete had been trying to make a comeback ever since 2009, but he failed to produce an eighth title at the Tour de France. He told the AP in an exclusive interview he's leaving, because he's interested in spending more time with his family and championing causes like a measure mandating a cigarette tax in California.
Of his retirement, Armstrong said:
I can't say I have any regrets. It's been an excellent ride. I really thought I was going to win another tour. Then I lined up like everybody else and wound up third.
You know, there are definitely a lot of negative things to say about Armstrong. In the past, he has at times come off like a cocky jerk, a tinge Tiger Woods-ish in a way. He's also been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs (there's an ongoing investigation), and I'm still annoyed by what went down between him and Sheryl Crow. (Their wedding was called off in 2006, in part because supposedly he told Sheryl that he couldn't be a father again, but then in 2009, he ended up fathering a child with girlfriend Anna Hansen.)
All of this aside, I have to say ... even though it's kind of annoying to see an athlete come out of retirement and then go back again so soon (remember when Michael Jordan did it?), it's refreshing to see them come out and say, "Hey, I didn't succeed, but at least I tried again, and now I'm going to peace out."
I also admire him for making cycling a big deal to Americans, ever since he rocked out the Tour de France in 1999. He also raised $25.1 million for people affected by cancer, thanks to all those rubber yellow bracelets.
Even though he's now officially in "retirement 2.0" as he calls it, I don't believe this is the last we're going to see of him. There's speculation that he could end up in politics or back in the public eye somehow. Maybe in his new incarnation, he'll be even more influential and inspirational than in this cycling life. He certainly seems to know how to rally people around a cause.
Are you sad to see Lance Armstrong retire (again)?
Image via Angus Kingston/Flickr