19 Nov 2008

Armstrong says he could be attacked by Tour de France spectators

6:03 am on 19 November 2008

Cycling legend Lance Armstrong fears he could be attacked by spectators if he returns to the Tour de France next year.

The seven-time Tour champion, who is making a comeback after three years in retirement, says he doesn't want to enter an unsafe situation but you see this stuff coming out of France.... there're some aggressive, angry emotions.

He could be targeted by French fans angry that doping allegations surrounding him have helped to destroy the credibility and the magic of cycling's most famous race.

It's unclear why Armstrong is worried about his safety now, given that attacks on riders are extremely rare. Organizers have in recent years taken additional steps to protect riders from the crowds, including increasing the use of crowd barriers.

The Tour has its own police force to guard the route and ensure safety and French police paid particular attention to Armstrong's safety when he was riding.

Armstrong announced his comeback in September and joined the Astana team. He is reunited with Astana team leader Johan Bruyneel, who teamed with Armstrong for all seven Tour de France wins from 1999-2005.