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Armstrong wears cancer numbers on return
By Tim Dornin
08:53 AEST Sun Jan 18 2009
Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong has two numbers related to cancer victims on his bike for his return to cycling.

There are two numbers blazoned on the new bike Lance Armstrong will ride in the Tour Down Under and the American sporting legend and cancer campaigner says they sum up the reasons for his return to professional cycling.

The first - 1,274 - refers to the number of days between when the Texan retired at the end of the 2005 Tour de France and the start of his comeback in Adelaide.

While the second - 27.5 - refers to the estimated millions of cancer deaths worldwide in that time.

"So in those 1,274 days approximately 27.4 million people around the world have died from this disease," Armstrong said on Saturday.

"It's a staggering number when you sit back and think about it.

"I've been off the bike for a long time, but it's only been three and a half years.

"In the meantime, that's more people than live in this entire country who are now gone."

Armstrong said while he remained unsure just how successful his sporting comeback might be, if he managed to raise awareness about the need to fight the disease that nearly claimed his life more than 10 years ago, then his return would be justified and his legacy as one of the greatest cyclists of all time would not be tarnished.

"If I come back and I get fifth in the tour (of France) but we've created a movement around the world that has seen countries and continents commit billions of dollars to this disease and created global awareness, then you're talking a bout a different kind of legacy," he said.

And raising money to fund more research, was not simply the answer.

"We've already raised a lot of money and we'll continue to raise a lot of money," Armstrong said.

"But sometimes this disease doesn't need money, it needs attention, it needs exposure it needs awareness.

"It needs people to step back and look at that bike and go... gee, they're just two simple numbers but why haven't I heard about this?

"Why haven't I stood up and demanded change because of this?

"That's not a financial issue."