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Last ride

Sports | Six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong says this year's race will be his last

Issue: "Rick Santorum: Penn Station," April 30, 2005

American cycling champion Lance Armstrong will race in this year's Tour de France after all. But, as he announced in April, that race will be his last as a professional cyclist-even if he loses. Of course the cycling legend who survived cancer to win a record six consecutive Tours is aiming at his seventh championship. He made clear what's important: "Because of that dream to go out on top. I have to tell you that's a big deal to me."

Indeed, Mr. Armstrong's comeback story didn't come without a cost. His championship streak in cycling's premier event lasted longer than his marriage. Mr. Armstrong and his wife of five years and three children divorced in 2003. From there, the cyclist threw himself completely into the sport and eventually started dating rock star Sheryl Crow. Now he says his children are calling him home. "They're the ones that make it easier to suffer but they're also the ones that have told me it's time to come home," he said.

The Yankee clipper strikes again

Just a dozen games into the new baseball season was all the time New York Yankees boss George Steinbrenner needed before calling out his team for starting the season 4-8. "Enough is enough. I am bitterly disappointed, as I'm sure all Yankee fans are, by the lack of performance by our team," Mr. Steinbrenner vented. His harsh words weren't part of a post-game fuming session. Rather, the Yankees owner typed his scathing remarks, delivering a written statement to the press.

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In all, the Boss will pay $200 million in salary during the 2005 season, causing Mr. Steinbrenner to wonder exactly how much a last-place team should cost. Through a dozen games, the Yankees were tied with Tampa Bay in the cellar of the American League East. And New York seemed to respond. The very next day, the Yankees posted 13 runs in the second inning of a game against the Devil Rays. That's a good thing for New York manager Joe Torre. Mr. Steinbrenner, who fired managers 17 times in his first decade with the Yankees, probably wouldn't hesitate letting Mr. Torre go. In fact some might say Mr. Torre, who is entering his 10th season in pinstripes, has exceeded his life expectancy in New York.

Around the Horn

· Boston police will seek misdemeanor charges against two men who interfered with Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield while he was trying to field a ball. Mr. Sheffield shoved a fan who either took a swipe for the ball or for Mr. Sheffield. That fan's season tickets were revoked. Another fan spilled a beer on Mr. Sheffield during the play. After the Yankees left fielder fired the ball to the cutoff man, he turned and thought about attacking the invasive Red Sox fans. But he resisted, he said, after thinking about the recent brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons fans.

· If Denver Nuggets coach George Karl could bottle and sell whatever he found in Boise, Idaho, he might have all the NBA's coaches lining up. After being fired by Milwaukee in 2003, Mr. Karl retreated to Boise to watch his son, Coby, play basketball for Boise State. Mr. Karl said he learned to enjoy the game once again, and now, back in the NBA, he's leading the Nuggets into the playoffs by winning 21 of 23 games since the start of March.

· Some NFL stars may want to brush up on their public-speaking skills. They should not turn to former baseball star Mark McGwire for advice. The congressional committee that forced Mr. McGwire and other baseball players and officials to testify said it will call NFL players and executives to testify. The watching world can hope NFL players are at least willing to "talk about the past."


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