Armstrong to ride last Tour

PARIS - The 2010 Tour de France, which starts on Saturday in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, will be Lance Armstrong's last appearance in the race he won a record seven consecutive times.

Earlier this week, Armstrong wrote on Twitter: "And yes, this will be final Tour de France. It's been a great ride. Looking forward to three great weeks."

Then he added: "Doh, sorry, meant 'my' final Tour."

Few athletes have made a more indelible mark on an event or a sport, for better or worse, than the 38-year-old American will leave on the Tour when he rolls down the Champs-Elysées in Paris for the last time on July 25. Some people - many of whom live in France - will not be sorry to see the lanky Texan leave the race for good (Armstrong retired from racing four years ago, then returned last year, finishing third).

He came to represent something new and not welcome to many Tour aficionados. Brazenly ambitious, aloof and coldly calculating, Armstrong did not fit the mould of past champions, who appeared to ride by instinct alone and only for the love of the race.

The French love an underdog, and were at first taken by the story of how Armstrong won his fight against cancer to return to competition as a high-performance athlete. - Sapa-DPA