As the Tour de France winds to a close July 21, Lance Armstrong will be doing what he always used to do this time of year: he’ll be riding a bike.
The seven-time Tour champion who was banned from competition after he admitted to doping will ride in the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, a week-long, 406-mile trek.
“To be honest, it’s not a statement, it’s not an experiment,” Armstrong told the Register. “It’s just me wanting to go ride my bike with what in the past has been a friendly group of people who share the same interests.”
For Armstrong, stripped of his Tour titles after his admission to doping, there’ll be safety in numbers with as many as 10,000 fellow riders in what is not officially a race.
“I’m well aware my presence is not an easy topic, and so I encourage people if they want to give a high five, great,” he said. “If you want to shoot me the bird, that’s okay, too.”
The RAGBRAI begins in Council Bluffs on July 21, the day the Tour de France ends in Paris, and Armstrong isn’t committing to the entire ride. He told the Register he and his Mellow Johnny’s bike shop staff would hang around “three or four” days. Armstrong has participated in the event five times, most recently in 2011.