ADELAIDE, Australia — Lance Armstrong said Sunday he has high hopes the presidency of Barack Obama will see health-care reform in the United States and more money for the fight against cancer.
Armstrong, a testicular cancer survivor who began a comeback to professional cycling in Adelaide, Australia on Sunday, once sought a billion dollars in cancer funding from fellow Texan and avid mountain biker George W. Bush.
He said at a news conference before the Tour Down Under race while Obama's sport of choice was basketball, not cycling, he hoped the incoming president would be receptive to his anticancer message and a champion of health-care reform.
"I'm optimistic in this new administration. I'm optimistic because of" Obama, Armstrong said. "I think the best thing he can do is come in and reform our health-care system. And do I think he'll increase the funding? Yes, absolutely."
Armstrong was reluctant to consider himself a Republican or Democrat.
"I wouldn't say I'm a Republican and I wouldn't say I'm a Democrat. I'm probably stronger on the first part than the second," he said.
The seven-time Tour de France winner also played down his own reported political ambitions, or that his recent bike ride with Bush represented a closeness to the president or the Republican party.
When asked to ride with Bush he took the opportunity to press his fight against cancer and asked the outgoing president for a billion dollars. He didn't get it but he was glad he asked.
"You've got to keep in mind that as a cancer survivor who is asked to go ride mountain bikes with the president, I'm thinking about one thing," he said.
"I'm thinking that when this mountain bike ride is over with I'm going to ask him for something. So we came to the end of the ride and I asked him for a billion dollars to fight this disease.
"That's not to say that I support this president or I support his policies. But when you get the opportunity to go and ask that question, you have to go."