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Cycling circles await Armstrong interview

TIM DORNIN
Last updated 11:04 11/01/2013
Andy Schleck and  Lance Armstrong
Getty Images

STUNNED BY REVELATIONS: Andy Schleck and Lance Armstrong talk as they prepare for the start of stage one of the 2010 Tour of California in Nevada City.

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Tour de France winner Andy Schleck admits he is eagerly awaiting Lance Armstrong's US television interview next week, fascinated to learn how he will deal with his fall into disgrace.

Schleck believes a candid interview with Oprah Winfrey on her TV network could win Armstrong back some fans but he's unsure whether the Texan will admit using performance-enhancing drugs during his career.

''I don't think he [Armstrong] goes there to say that he's innocent and that he didn't do anything,'' Schleck said as he arrived in Adelaide on Thursday to prepare for the Tour Down Under.

''It's been many years. For him, it's not easy - the media, the pressure.

''I believe he does it [the interview] for a good reason. But if he confesses? We don't know.''

The interview will be Armstrong's first since he was stripped in October of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life after the US Anti-Doping Agency said he helped orchestrate the most sophisticated doping program in cycling history.

Luxembourg star Schleck said he was stunned by those revelations.

''It shocked me. Somehow, even three or four years ago, we maybe knew that the Lance Armstrong era was not the cleanest in cycling so far,'' he said. ''But I believe that since 2005 and 2006 with the biological passport, everything changed for the young generation.''

Last week, The New York Times reported sources saying Armstrong, 41 - in an apparent bid to return to competitive sport in marathons and triathlons - was considering publicly admitting that he used banned substances.

Schleck said it was also possible Armstrong still believed he was innocent and had done nothing wrong.

Schleck, who was awarded the 2010 Tour de France crown after Alberto Contador was disqualified for doping, will be competing at the season-opening Tour Down Under for the first time.

He said this season was crucial for the future of cycling but warned against expecting the sport to be totally clean.

''There will still be some guys [test] positive again this year,'' he said. ''But that's not necessarily a bad sign. That's a sign that the system works.

''I don't believe [that] in cycling they dope more. In every sport, there's cheaters but in cycling they get caught. That's a good thing.''

Schleck's Radioshack Leopard Trek team will not include his older brother Frank, who is awaiting the outcome of a disciplinary hearing after testing positive for a banned diuretic at last year's Tour de France.

Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur said he couldn't see Armstrong admitting to widespread doping - something the American has previously denied under oath.

''Obviously, a confession would lead to other matters, so I can't see it happening,'' Turtur said. ''But I'll be as interested [in the interview] as anyone else.''

Turtur said he was not concerned by the timing of the Armstrong interview coming a week before the start of this year's Adelaide race.

''It was going to happen sooner or later so we might as well get it done now and be done with it,'' he said.

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''I don't think it's going to overshadow this race. This is a new beginning - a new season for these teams and for the sport.''

- AAP

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