``There were days that I doubted it,'' the Texan said of his inspirational comeback at a Thursday news conference to announce his signing of a contract to race in 1998 for the United States Postal Service team. Lance had his news conference this morning at the Marriot Marquis in Manhattan.
``But overall it was always my intention to compete again, to at least give it a shot,'' said the 26-year-old Armstrong, whose remarkable determination was rewared with a one-year deal to ride for the only U.S.-based cycling team to compete in the Tour de France this year.
``I'm not saying that I'm going to come back and win stages of the Tour de France or some races,'' said Armstrong, who won Tour de France stages in 1993 and 1996. ``This is just a try.''
Armstrong had taken over from retired Greg LeMond as America's top professional cyclist with a string of successes over the last few years. He won the Tour Du Pont in 1995 and 1996 and was the first American to win the Classica San Sebastian one-day race in 1995.
But last October, just two months after the 1993 road race world champion had competed in the 1996 Olympics, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had already spread to his lungs and brain.
His fellow cyclists were stunned by the news that things looked bleak for the athlete seemingly at the height of his competitive powers.
The two-time Olympian went through extensive chemotherapy and had two operations, including brain surgery last October.
``Doctors gave me only a 50-50 chance to live,'' Armstrong recalled.
``Today I'm here to tell you that I'm OK, I'm recovered and I'm healthy,'' he said.
``Right now my tests indicate that there is no cancer. My chest X-rays are perfectly clear, when they started with 10 to 12 golf ball size tumors in my lungs. My blood work, which was off the charts, is now zero,'' he said of his miraculous recovery.
``Since the start of October I've been training seriously,'' Armstrong said of his four-hour workouts. ``I don't feel like damaged goods. I just feel like an out-of-shape person, which I am.''
No firm date was set for Armstrong's first race, but the intention was for him to competing in the spring.
``There has never been a case like this,'' Armstrong said of his comeback. ``I don't know whether I will be able to race competitively in February or if it will take until August.''
The team's general manager, Mark Gorski, said Armstrong's schedule will be determined as his training progresses.
``He may be riding a full schedule, but I don't know that and I don't want to put the pressure on him to feel that he needs to do that,'' Gorski said. ``I want him to be comfortable with the way that he embarks on the comeback. We will decide on his race schedule together.''
Armstrong had a $1.2 million a year contract with the French team Cofidis before being stricken with cancer. Cofidis dropped him earlier this month, claiming Armstrong's agent was making demands beyond a prior verbal agreement.
The terms of the new contract were not announced, but Armstrong's agent, Bill Stapleton, said the new deal was for much less money.
``He can still make himself some good money and set himself up for 1999,'' Stapleton said of the incentive-filled package.
1. Martinello-Villa (Ita) 71 points 2. Risi-Betschart (Zwi) 63 3. Baffi-Lombardi (Ita) 43 At 1 lap: 4. De Wilde-Gilmore (Bel-Aus) 46 5. Ermenault-Veggerby (Fra-Den) 38
1. Paul Herijgers (Bel) 2. Pascal Van Riet 0.20 3. Gianni David 4. Kurt Deroose (Bel) 5. Johan Verstrepen (Bel)