Lance plays down Tour takeover rumours

Lance Armstrong has dismissed reports that he had been preparing a takeover of Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), which owns the Tour de France.

Lance will end his international cycling career at the Tour Down Under this week after 20 years that saw him beat cancer before winning a record seven yellow jerseys in succession.

The 39-year-old said he was looking forward to spending more time in the United States with his family and rejected suggestions he had ever harboured plans to launch an audacious takeover of the world’s biggest bike race.

Armstrong said Saturday it would be a “great idea” to take over the race, but admitted the move would probably not be welcomed by shareholders such as French media tycoon Arnaud Lagardere, or make much sound financial sense.

“It’s an expensive proposition. ASO is a family business with a few other shareholders, such as Lagardere,” said Armstrong.

“He (Lagardere) has, to the best of my understanding, the first right of refusal on anything the family wants to sell. I think he’s interested in having a bigger stake in cycling.

“You have to consider that ASO owns a lot of properties, not just the Tour but other sporting events, a lot of media properties.”

Reports in the Australian media last year made allusions to Armstrong’s interest in buying the Tour de France.

The reports raised eyebrows, especially as the 108-year-old race — one of the world’s top five sporting events — is regarded as an integral part of France’s national heritage.

But the American said: “There was never any serious discussions. That was the irony of the story.”