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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
American cycling legend Lance Armstrong placed fifth at the 2011 XTERRA USA Championship, at Snowbasin, Sept. 24, 2011.

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong showed he's still a competitor at the XTERRA USA Championships at Snowbasin. Despite a two-decade absence from triathlons, he finished fifth, and said he wouldn't rule out participating in off-road triathlons — or road triathlons — in the future. He celebrated 15 years cancer-free the day after the competition. The Deseret News' Amy Donaldson caught up with the legendary cyclist after the XTERRA event.

Q: Did this race ever become a mental challenge, and if so when?

A: No, because I didn't expect to win. I was just going to go out and do my best, and I knew it was going to be awkward. I didn't know that some things would be as awkward as they were. The swim-to-bike transition was very … just shifting from the cold water, shifting from going from an upper body exercise to a lower one is an adjustment.

Q: Did you think about the anniversary of being cancer-free today?

A: I didn't today. I saw a lot of great support out there. A lot of Livestrong support, which is nice to see. Until you get to the last part of the race, and then you can't see much of anything. I was basically cross-eyed. But you hear the voices, you hear the stories, even in passing and it's cool.

Q: There was a new report released about possible steroid use. Do you have a comment on that? Do you think you can ever just go out and race?

A: I'm totally immune to any controversy. I've been listening to this stuff for 15 years, with the latest thing going on for 18 months. The other side … leaked tidbits on the weeks I'm doing something. This week I'm testifying before United Nations, doing events with mayor Bloomberg. Doing events with the Livestrong Foundation, I'm racing this weekend. It's no accident that they leaked that this week.

Q: Do you have any tips for older athletes hoping to compete in triathlons?

A: I just got back in it. I am a pretend triathlete. I swam and I rode and I ran. Back in Austin, I swim, ride occasionally and run less than that.

Q: Was it different lining up against athletes of all abilities, rather than just pros?

A: I didn't really notice. I was nervous, I was trying to stay focused on what I had to do today just because I was freaked out that it had been so long.