26 Jan 2009

Arsmtrong happy with first up race

5:32 am on 26 January 2009

The American legend Lance Armstrong believes he can again compete with the best cyclists in the world after completing his comeback race at the Tour Down Under in South Australia.

The seven times Tour de France winner was content just to stick with the pack in his first race for three and a half years but says the experience has reassured him he can still match it with the best.

He finished 71st in yesterday's final stage of the six-day 800 kilometre tour and 29th overall from 133 starters, 49 seconds behind Australian race winner Allan Davis.

Armstrong, who announced last year he was making a comeback at the age of 37, says he never expected to win the race but hoped to be competitive in the middle of the year.

Davis, who won three of the six stages, was the overall winner from Australia's Stuart O'Grady. Spaniard Jose Joaquin Rojas was awarded third place on a countback from the 2007 race winner, Switzerland's Martin Elmiger.

Armstrong's comeback sparked unprecedented global interest and an estimated 144,000 people turned up to watch yesterday's final stage.

Journalists and photographers from around the world travelled to Adelaide for the race and Armstrong, who has had a prickly relationship with the media in the past, was on a charm offensive as part of his push to promote cancer awareness.