Charlotte support for Lance Armstrong, Live Strong unwavering

Charlotte support for Lance Armstrong, Live Strong unwavering

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by BORA KIM / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @BoraKimWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on January 16, 2013 at 12:52 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte cyclists say their support for Lance Armstrong will “Live Strong” despite his highly anticipated television confession expected to air Thursday.

Basil Lyberg, the Executive Director for the “24 Hours of Booty” -- Charlotte’s official Live Strong bicycling event -- expressed his continued support for Armstrong’s organization Tuesday night.

"What we've heard from out riders is that they don't care. They are kind of over it in terms of they are ready to raise funds and ready to support loved ones that battle cancer because really that's what Live Strong meant to them," said Lyberg.

Participation is expected to remain high at this year’s 24 Hours of Booty event in July. So far, 1,200 cyclists have signed up and the organization expects to raise its usual $1.5 million for cancer survivors.

Lyberg said many riders plan to tune in to the interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Armstrong is expected to confess to using performance-enhancing drugs after years of denial. Lyberg felt it will offer some closure to fans but said it does not take away from what he has accomplished in his career.

Ben Cooley, owner of the Bicycle Sport in Charlotte, felt the same.

"He still won seven tours and he still beat the guys around him who were also doping. You have to go back 12, 13, 14 spots before you find a guys who wasn't busted for doping. He still inspired people, brought cycling to the forefront not only in the U.S. but around the world. I think he did a lot of good things -- doesn’t dismiss what he did -- but that’s for someone else to judge,” said Cooley.

In the end, Cooley thinks people will forgive and forget. He does not think the negative press about Armstrong will affect his business or interest in biking.

“The majority of our business are not racers, but enthusiasts who like their bikes, families riding to the store,” he said.

The two-part interview with Oprah Winfrey will air Thursday night.

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