AUSTIN, Texas (AFP) – Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong on Wednesday announced his retirement from professional cycling at the age of 39.
“Today, I am announcing my retirement from professional cycling in order to devote myself full-time to my family, to the fight against cancer and to leading the foundation I established before I won my first Tour de France,” Armstrong said in a statement.
“My focus now is raising my five children, promoting the mission of (his foundation) Livestrong, and growing entrepreneurial ventures with our great corporate partners in the fight against cancer.”
Armstrong initially retired from cycling after the 2005 Tour de France, but returned to competition in 2009.
The American went on to finish third in the 2009 Tour de France and most recently placed 67th in the Tour Down Under in Australia last month.
There were hopes that Armstrong would race in the May 15-22 Tour of California.
Armstrong is the subject of a federal investigation in the United States after allegations of doping levelled by former teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for using illegal substances.
But Armstrong, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 25, has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and has consistently denied allegations of doping.
UCI president Pat McQuaid dubbed Armstrong an “icon” in the sport.
“His contribution to cycling has been enormous, from both the sporting point of view and his personality,” said McQuaid, quoted by the BBC.
“All sports need global icons and he has become a global icon for cycling. The sport of cycling has a lot to be thankful for because of Lance Armstrong.”
2010 Tour of Flanders practice, Lance Armstrong
Armstrong on a practice ride before the Tour of Flanders. AFP PHOTO BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS LAMBERT
2009 Tour de France, TTT. Astana, Lance Armstrong
Armstrong came within a second of the yellow jersey after Astana won the Tour's TTT. AFP PHOTO PASCAL PAVANI
2008 12 Hours of Snowmass, Lance Armstrong
Later in August, Armstrong and a partner won the 12 Hours of Snowmass. Photo: Jason Sumner
2010 Tour of the Gila, stage 1. Lance Armstrong
Armstrong and Team Mellow Johnny's returned to the Tour of the Gila in 2010. Photo: Casey B. Gibson
2009 Tour Down Under, Lance Armstrong
Armstrong surprised many with his good form at his first major race of his comeback, the 2009 Tour Down Under. Photo: Graham Watson
2010 Tour Down Under, Lance Armstrong
Armstrong in a breakaway on stage 4 of the 2010 Tour Down Under. Photo: Graham Watson
2011 Tour Down Under, Lance Armstrong training
Armstrong training before the Tour Down Under. Photo: AFP
2009 Tour de France final podium: Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong
The 2009 Tour de France final podium: Andy Schleck, Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong. Photo: Graham Watson
2009 Tour de France. Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong
Armstrong leads Alberto Contador at the 2009 Tour de France. Photo: Graham Watson
2008 CrossVegas, Lance Armstrong
Hours after the New York announcement, Armstrong was racing at the CrossVegas cyclocross race in Las Vegas. Photo: Brad Kaminski
2010 Quiznos Pro Challenge announcement, Lance Armstrong
In Denver in the fall, Armstrong announced the launch of the Quiznos Pro Challenge, a stage race planned for 2011 in Colorado. Photo: Brad Kaminski
2009 Nevada City Classic, Lance Armstrong
Looking for a win to boost morale ahead of the Tour, Armstrong raced the Nevada City Classic criterium, where he scored the first victory of his comeback with a solo attack. Photo: Wil Matthews
2010 Tour of California, Lance Armstrong
Armstrong left the 2010 Tour of California afte crashing on stage 5. Photo: Casey B. Gibson
2010 Tour of California, Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel
Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel answer questions about Floyd Landis' allegations, prior to the fifth stage of the 2010 Tour of California. Photo: Casey B. Gibson
Lance Armstrong and Robin Williams in Afghanistan
In December Armstrong went on a USO tour visiting U.S. troops in Afghanistan with Robin Williamns and other celebrities. Photo: AFP
2010 Tour de Suisse, stage 3. Lance Armstrong and Frank Schleck.
Armstrong showed he was a contended for the 2010 Tour de France by finishing second overall at the Tour de Suisse. Photo: Graham Watson
2010 Tour de France. Lance Armstrong and Chris Horner
After crashing early on stage 8, and then getting caught behind another crash, Armstrong lost all hope of a top GC placing in the 2010 Tour. Photo: Graham Watson
2009 Leadville 100: Lance Armstrong
Armstrong dominated the 2009 Leadville 100, riding alone for the last 60 miles and breaking the course record by a huge margin. Photo: Rob O'Dea
2009 SRAM Tour of the Gila, Lance Armstrong
When his broken collarbone nixed plans to race his first Giro, Armstrong, Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer raced the little known Tour of the Gila in New Mexico. Because of rules barring ProTour riders from lower-category events, the trio raced in Mellow Johnny's kit. Photo: Casey B. Gibson
2010 Tour de France. Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador
Armstrong and Contador at the Tour. Photo: AP
2008 Leadville 100, Lance Armstrong
Armstrong's second place at the 2008 Leadville got his competitive juices flowing again, and not long after he announced he would return to racing full time for 2009. Photo: Joseph Kreiss
2010 Tour de France. Lance Armstrong wardrobe change
Team RadioShack showed up for the final stage in special black kit to raise awareness for cancer. When officials objected, the team was forced to make a last minute wardrobe change. Photo: Graham Watson
2009 Tour of California time trial, Lance Armstrong
Armstrong in the 2009 Tour of California. Photo: Casey B. Gibson
2009 Tour of Ireland Twitter ride, Lance Armstrong
Since his comeback, Armstrong has held 'Twitter' meet-up rides in several cities. This is from a ride he did following the 2009 Tour of Ireland. Photo: Stephen McMahon
2008 Clinton Global Initiative, Lance Armstrong, Taylor Phinney, Don Catlin
Armstrong officially announced his comeback at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. Standing with him were Don Catlin, who Armstrong said would run an independent anti-doping test program, and Taylor Phinney, who was leaving the Slipstream development program to join the new Trek-Livestrong team. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA
2009 Castilla y Leon, Lance Armstrong
Armstrong suffered his worse race injury ever when he broke his collarbone at the 2009 Vuelta Castilla y Leon. AFP PHOTO/ STRINGER
2011 Tour Down Under stage 5, Lance Armstrong
Armstrong's last major road race would be the 2011 Tour Down Under. AFP PHOTO/MARK GUNTER
2010 Tour de France, Paris parade, Lance Armstrong
Armstrong's fairwell tour of the Champs Elysees. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS LENOIR