Report: Five-time Tour de France champ, wife decide to divorce

Thursday, September 4th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Five-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and his wife have separated and are planning to divorce, a spokesman for his cycling team said Thursday.

Armstrong, wife Kristin and their three children cut short a vacation to return to their Central Texas home before the announcement, said Jogi Muller, representing Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service team.

``They tried, over the whole summer period, to reconcile,'' Muller said from Geneva. ``But somehow, now in the month after the Tour, it just didn't work out. They tried probably for the children, for themselves.''

The couple is currently in mediation to reach a divorce settlement, while maintaining separate homes in Central Austin, according to a story published in Thursday editions of the Austin American-Statesman.

``It's an unfortunate situation,'' Kristin Armstrong, 32, told the newspaper. ``We are making the best of it for the sake of our kids.''

The Armstrongs have been married for five years and separated in late January. The 31-year-old cyclist, who grabbed his record-tying fifth straight victory in cycling's most prestigious race this summer, later agreed to enter counseling in an effort to salvage their marriage.

Armstrong's wife and children _ 3-year-old Luke and 22-month-old twins Isabelle and Grace _ were with the cyclist in Paris on July 27 to celebrate his Tour victory. They left Paris together and spent time on a family vacation before returning to Austin late last month.

``We both have (legal) representation, and we're doing this peacefully,'' the cyclist said Wednesday. ``The craziest thing is, we're closer now and better friends than ever before. We're truly committed to maintaining a good relationship, but not a marriage.''

Armstrong, also a victor over testicular cancer, met his wife in January 1997, just weeks after he had completed intense chemotherapy to treat an advanced stage of the disease. The two started dating in June 1997 and were married 11 months later.

Because Lance's cancer treatments could have made him sterile, he had banked his sperm before chemotherapy. All three children were born through in vitro fertilization.

Kristin Armstrong has said several events related to her husband's celebrity and cancer comeback had strained the marriage. The couple plans to remain in Austin.

``The kids are our first priority,'' said the cyclist. ``We're also going to be respectful of each other. Neither of us wants to get in the situation where when we drop off the kids, we can't look at each other.''