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Sports | During the final days of his sixth Tour de France victory, Lance Armstrong left open the possibility he might skip next year's race

Issue: "Democrats are all smiles," Aug. 7, 2004

Au revoir, France? When the Discovery Channel picked up the sponsorship of Lance Armstrong's cycling team, the network thought it had signed onto a possible seventh consecutive Tour de France victory. But now Mr. Armstrong isn't so sure. During the final days of his latest Tour victory, the American cyclist left open the possibility he might skip next year's Tour de France. Mr. Armstrong described his thoughts during the Tour's final stage: "I thought, 'Ah, I want to get this over with.' But then I thought to myself, 'You know, you might want to do a few more laps, because you may not ever do it again.'" He's hinted that he'd like to focus on other cycling feats. Mr. Armstrong could take aim at the hour record, currently held by Chris Boardman who in 1996 rode just over 35 miles in one hour. He said he might also consider racing in other events like the Tour of Italy or the Tour of Spain. "I don't know what I'll do next summer. I suspect I'll be here," he said. "My only hesitance is I think the people and the event perhaps need a change, new faces, a new winner. If I'm here, I race to win." Goodbye, football Whatever running back Ricky Williams is looking for, he thinks he'll find it in Asia. One week before the opening of NFL training camps, the 27-year-old football star decided to free himself from professional football's rigors and retire. During his five-year career, Mr. Williams rushed for 6,354 yards, but recently was caught using marijuana a second time by the league. "You can't understand how free I feel," Mr. Williams said before embarking on a short trip to Tokyo. He said he hoped to pursue his current passions: photography, film, and generally drifting. Mr. Williams doesn't have many football friends. He often sat alone in the locker room and on the bench with the Dolphins. Instead, he's spent time with rocker Lenny Kravitz, rapper Snoop Dogg, and vagabonds that he befriended during a recent trip to Australia. "This is an opportunity to be a real role model," Mr. Williams told The Miami Herald. "Everyone wants freedom. Human beings aren't supposed to be controlled and told what to do. They're supposed to be given direction and a path. Don't tell me what I can and can't do. Please." "I don't know really what he was talking about," said Miami coach Dave Wannstedt, voicing a frustration that many of Mr. Williams's teammates must be feeling. While the ex-Dolphin piques his interests, Miami must now scramble to fill the void created by Mr. Williams's sudden departure. Around the Horn • Somewhere, the Yankees picked up a bug. First Kevin Brown fell ill to an intestinal parasite. Now Yankees slugger Jason Giambi has a good excuse for a .221 batting average. Doctors worried Mr. Giambi had caught a very serious parasite. But Mr. Giambi isn't worried: "We're not in a Third World country, so we have medication." • Todd Zeile's first pitching outing in 2004 didn't work out as well as his one-inning masterpiece in 2002. Then, Mr. Zeile pitched one shutout inning, coaxing a double play and striking out Wilkin Ruan. But in the eighth inning of the New York Mets July 26 loss to Montreal, Mr. Zeile's knuckleball failed to knuckle. The result: The infielder gave up five runs skyrocketing his career ERA to 22.50. • Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer needed to think like a student to avoid a subpoena. Attorneys for a former Alabama football coach who said Mr. Fulmer conspired to ruin his career planned to confront the coach at the Southeastern Conference's media day. Mr. Fulmer's solution: He skipped it.

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