Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong says fellow riders have been generally supportive of him this week during an annual bike ride across the US state of Iowa.
Armstrong is riding part of the week-long event called RAGBRAI, which starts at the Missouri River in western Iowa and ends at the Mississippi River. It is the first extended public appearance on a bike since he admitted in January that he doped to win seven Tour de France titles since stripped from him.
Armstrong told the Des Moines Register, which sponsors RAGBRAI, that the event allows him to stay connected with the sport he loves. It is his fifth RAGBRAI, and he said the support he’s received in years past played a role in his decision to return. “I’ve been here before and I know what the people of the state are like, and I know what the riders of RAGBRAI are like,” said Armstrong. “I didn’t expect a wave of hostility.”
Part of the fallout from Armstrong’s admission was his resignation from the board of the cancer-fighting charity Livestrong Foundation, which he founded in 1997 after beating cancer himself. The foundation could face potential lawsuits from donors who argue that the group does not provide money directly to cancer research. Armstrong defended Livestrong, calling it a “first-class organisation.”
“I think the foundation does great work, regardless of what anybody says,” he said.