What has he been doing?
In a televised confession with Oprah Winfrey in January, Armstrong admitted using banned drugs and blood transfusions to win races — and bullying those who questioned him in order to preserve his image. Since then he has mostly kept out of the public eye. His endorsement deals have all but dried up, and some estimates put his liability as a defendant in various lawsuits at up to $135 million.
Where will he be?
Armstrong said he plans to be in Council Bluffs on Saturday for the pre-ride expo, along with staff from his bike shop. He’s expected to ride at least three days — three days would take him to Des Moines.
Why is he coming?
“It’s just me wanting to go ride my bike with what in the past has been a friendly group of people that share the same interests,” Armstrong told Register columnist Kyle Munson earlier this month in announcing his plans. It’s his fifth time on RAGBRAI, but the character of the previous visits obviously was much different. There were celebratory rides offering a chance to rub elbows with the seven-time Tour de France champion, and days Armstrong, a cancer survivor, spent promoting cancer research — especially in 2007 against the backdrop of the Iowa presidential caucus campaigns that were in full swing.
How can I find him?
No public events had been scheduled when this section was printed. During past visits, Armstrong has tended to roll out of the overnight town about mid-morning and make many of the same stops in pass-through towns as everybody else. He said he’ll be fine with whatever reception is offered: “I’m well aware my presence is not an easy topic, and so I encourage people if they want to give a high five, great,” he said. “If you want to shoot me the bird, that’s OK, too.”
Wasn’t Armstrong banned from cycling?
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency banned Armstrong for life from competition in sanctioned cycling events. RAGBRAI is a bicycle tour, not a competition. The USADA also stripped him of his Tour de France victories.
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