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Armstrong brings cancer campaign to Rome

 Cyclist Lance Armstrong, cneter, tosses away water bottle while racing in stage 5 of the Tour of the Gila, a criterium in downtown Silver City, N.M.,...
 Levi Leipheimer, left, Lance Armstrong, middle, and Chris Horner lead a breakaway up to Pinos Altos, N.M., during stage 5 of the Tour of the Gila cyc...

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Cyclist Lance Armstrong, cneter, tosses away water bottle while racing in stage 5 of the Tour of the Gila, a criterium in downtown Silver City, N.M.,...

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Levi Leipheimer, left, Lance Armstrong, middle, and Chris Horner lead a breakaway up to Pinos Altos, N.M., during stage 5 of the Tour of the Gila cyc...

Lance Armstrong took his cancer-awareness campaign to the Italian capital Tuesday as he prepared for his first Giro d'Italia.
The seven-time Tour de France winner was meeting with cancer patients at a children's hospital before a meeting with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.
"Made it here to Rome. Long trip! Looking fwd to starting our Italian campaign," Armstrong wrote on his Twitter feed. "Only the start but eager to be here for a month."
The Giro begins Saturday in Venice with a team time trial and ends May 31 in Rome.
Armstrong fought through testicular cancer before he began to dominate cycling. He returned this year after three and a half years of retirement, but his comeback has been complicated by a fall during a race in Spain in March.
Following surgery on a broken collarbone, Armstrong began racing again last week, finishing second to Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer in the Tour of Gila in New Mexico.
Still not in top form, Armstrong is planning to support Leipheimer in his bid to win the Giro.
The American duo will be joined by Jani Brajkovic, Chris Horner, Steve Morabito, Daniel Navarro, Yaroslav Popovych, Jose Luis Rubiera and Andrey Zeits on Astana's Giro team, which was announced late Monday.
"I suppose three weeks ago I didn't expect to have the condition that I have now but we still have work to do," Armstrong said Sunday after the Tour of Gila. "Certainly, we're a few clicks away from winning any big races, but that's OK."
Armstrong had surgery two days after the fall at the Vuelta of Castilla and Leon. A stainless steel plate and 12 screws were inserted into his shoulder to stabilize the broken collarbone.
He plans to go for an eighth Tour de France title in July.
"The curve looks good and we'll just keep on and try to stay out of trouble in Italy. Don't dig a hole because that race can definitely damage you for a quite a bit of time," he said.
Armstrong is interested in running his own cycling team in the future.
"I would like to have a team that's all mine, be the owner, the sporting director and cyclist," he told the Gazzetta dello Sport. "Because if I make my own team, I want to race too. Not necessarily the Tour and Giro, but just when I want to."
He indicated a possible announcement could be made about his plans for a team in July.
Meanwhile, Armstrong's old nemesis Filippo Simeoni walked into the Italian cycling federation's offices Monday and handed in his Italian champion's jersey. Simeoni is upset that his small Ceramica Flaminia team was not invited to the Giro.
Ceramica Flaminia appealed unsuccessfully to the International Cycling Union (UCI) to intervene.
"All I know is that there is every sort of exception to the rules for (Armstrong), even with respect to the UCI," Simeoni told Tuesday's Gazzetta. "I wrote to (Armstrong) at the beginning of the season, and all it would have taken is one word to sort out the situation."
Armstrong managed to enter the Tour of Gila despite a UCI rule that bars top professional teams like Astana from sending organized squads to national-level races.
Also, UCI president Pat McQuaid took Armstrong's side in a doping case with France's anti-doping agency, known as AFLD, last month after the rider kept a drug tester waiting while he checked his credentials and took a shower.
Armstrong's tests came back negative and the AFLD later cleared Armstrong.
Asked about Simeoni in March at the Milan-San Remo, Armstrong said there was no issue.
"It's time for all of us to move on. This is an old story," Armstrong said at the time. "There's certainly no personal animosity."
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Associated Press Writer Susan Montoya Bryan contributed to this report from Pinos Altos, New Mexico.


Updated : 2021-04-16 08:09 GMT+08:00