The Ride of Lance Armstrong's Life
Credit: Getty Images
Back in Austin I ask Lance how important it is to him to win this sixth Tour. Can he possibly have the same hunger he had back in 1999, when he won his first? "It's just as important as all the other ones," he says. "I have no real personal pressure to try to win because it's never been done before, or for any reason like that. It's just important because, on a basic level, it's all that matters."

Is he worried about whether he can keep up this insane juggling act that his life has become? "I think I can do it all," he says. "It's hard. But if I lose the Tour because I'm trying to manage my life – spending time in Europe and spending time here and seeing my kids…" He trails off. "If I lose because of that, then you know what? It was worth it." He pauses and lets that sink in, as much for his own benefit as for mine. "But I think I can do it. It's a big challenge – and I always like challenges."

As I get up to leave, Lance turns to sign the books and posters his publicist dropped off. Then he follows me outside, where he starts playing with the kids, pulling the twins in a wagon while his son drives a toy electric truck down the driveway. Lance is home for 36 hours, and there's no time to waste.

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