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Lance Armstrong in Sacramento

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Lance Armstrong, contenders in the Tour of California, and hundreds of global media representatives filled Sheraton Hotel’s conference room downtown. The riders, tour organizers, and other public figures such as Mayor Kevin Johnson and commentator Phil Ligget made statements to the frenzied media representatives.

A panel representing perhaps the strongest racing team ever assembled in the United States fielded questions, mainly expressing their excitement for the race, which begins in Sacramento this Saturday. 

“It’s an honor to have these professional cyclists here in Sacramento,” said Mayor Johnson. “You’ll see Saturday in Sacramento how thrilled we are. We are pleased to have been a part of this event the last three years.”

"This year, because the prologue starts in Sacramento on a Saturday, we’re going to generate 8.5 million dollars. People will be staying in our hotel rooms for five nights, 2500 rooms, and our local businesses, restaurants, shops and hotels are very thankful."

One main contender and winner of the inaugural Tour of California, however, was missing. Disqualified Tour de France winner Floyd Landis suffered from a bruised hip after a bicycle crash about two hours before the conference. Though he required medical attention, he will be fit to race Saturday.

Many questions were geared toward Armstrong, concerning his fitness level and past and present doping scandals, as well as his relationships with other riders. He said of his fitness level, "at 37 I feel just as good as 27." 

As for questions about doping, Armstrong answered that he was "clean as a whistle". But more interestingly, he added "I’m on twitter, so you’ll always know where I am. I think the key is transparency."

Most importantly, however, Armstrong made it clear that his participation in the ride is to raise awareness about cancer. 

"Sometimes sensational news comes along and trumps old complacent stagnant news, like the number one killer in this country," he said wryly. 

Armstrong mentioned that he was very happy to be riding with friend and Tour De France rival cyclist Ivan Basso, since the Italian recently returned from retirement as well. However, this will be the first time that Armstrong will be riding on a different team than George Hincapie, who refers to Armstrong as his "best friend". 

Saturday’s race will begin near Capital and 9th and end near L and 11th. Bikes and public transportation to the event are encouraged. The event is free. 75,000 people are expected. 

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