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Decision likely to bring curtain down on glittering if sometimes controversial career

Lance Armstrong has used the social networking website Twitter to announce that this year’s Tour de France will be his final participation in the race that he dominated between 1999 and 2005, when he won it seven times in succession after returning to the sport following his successful battle against cancer.

The Team RadioShack rider’s decision also means that in all probability this will be his final season in the saddle, although there’s no word yet on his plans after this year’s race ends in Paris in a little over three weeks’ time.

In a message on Twitter yesterday evening, Armstrong said “And yes, this will be final Tour de France. It's been a great ride. Looking forward to three great weeks," later adding "Doh, sorry, meant "my" final Tour."

The 38-year-old Texan returned to the sport with Team Astana last year after a three-year absence with the stated aim of raising the profile of his Livestrong cancer charity, and as well as the Tour de France he rode the Giro d’Italia, something he never did in the days when his season was built around the French Grand Tour.

Following a campaign in which the divisions in the Astana squad were all too apparent, Armstrong finished third on the podium in Paris behind team-mate – although the pair had dropped any pretence of working alongside each other – Alberto Contador, and shortly before the end of the race announced the creation of Team RadioShack with then Astana Team Manager Johan Bruyneel, the pair also eventually recruiting a number of the Kazakh outfit’s riders for their new venture.

Earlier this year, Armstrong had intimated that he was thinking about taking part in next year’s edition of the Tour de France, but his latest announcement draws a line under a career that besides his unprecedented Tour de France success brought him the 1993 World Road Race title, plus victories in races including the Flèche Wallonne, the Tour of Switzerland and the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré twice, as well as a bronze medal in the Time Trial at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Earlier this month, Armstrong finished second in the Tour de Switzerland behind Fränk Schleck of Team Saxo Bank, suggesting that he is moving into some decent form ahead of what will now be his final Tour de France. That performance follows a start to the season that has been disrupted by illness and injury, not to mention the accusations made last month by Floyd Landis that Armstrong had been involved in doping when the pair rode for the United States Postal Service team, allegations that the Texan has flatly denied.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.