ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE -- President Bush predicted Friday that
Lance Armstrong will win the Tour de France -- and added with a
smile that he will triumph in his own race for re-election.
Bush fed his new passion for bicycling by watching the Tour on
Air Force One's TV screens, rooting for fellow Texan Armstrong
during a punishing stage through the Pyrenees mountains.
Asked by The Associated Press whether he thought Armstrong would
pull off a record-breaking sixth straight tour win, Bush flashed
"He's going to win and I'm going to win," Bush said en route
to Florida and West Virginia -- two critical states in re-election
"There's no need to worry about either race any more," Bush
said with a wave of his hands and a grin.
Armstrong finished second in Friday's stage, leaving main rival
Jan Ullrich struggling behind. He advanced the from sixth to second
in the overall standings.
Bush has been following the July 3-25 race since it started,
said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
The president gave Armstrong a ride aboard Air Force One in
August 2001, after the cyclist won his third tour. Armstrong
presented Bush with a bicycle he had used competitively during a
visit to the White House.
The day Armstrong hitched a ride on the plane, Bush had had his
annual physical, which showed he had a resting heart rate of 43
beats per minute. Armstrong marveled at the statistics, putting his
own pulse at 35.
That was before Bush started bicycling himself.
With his knees causing him increasing pain, Bush switched to
mountain biking earlier this year.
It's a different genre of cycling. Whereas Tour de France racers
ride light, fast bikes, mountain bikers ride heavier, knobby-tired
bicycles over dirt and obstacles.