Armstrong, awhose recovery and unprecedented success in one of the most grueling events in sports won him fans worldwide, insists this was his last Tour.
But even as he basked in the glow of victory Sunday, Armstrong said, "I'm sorry you can't dream big. And I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles. But this is one hell of a race. This is a great sporting event. And you should stand around and believe. You should believe in these athletes and you should believe in these people."
On The Early Show Monday, Armstrong
"But I suppose it was inevitable when you consider what the sport has been through the last ten years. (They'd think), 'The guy that comes back the year after the biggest doping scandal in the history of sports. Lo and behold. He's a cancer survivor, and he not only won it once, but he broke the record and won it seven times.'
"I understand, but it's not right. And, while you don't want to necessarily put the light on the negative aspect of it, I felt like I had to. And I felt like that was my last opportunity. I can't hold a press conference in a month and say, 'Hey you guys, shame on you for not dreaming.' So that was my chance. I just said. 'Take a good look at this face, because you're never gonna see it again.' "
Armstrong told Smith the accusations and whispers "made me angry. Of course. Nobody wants to hear that. If you're a singer, nobody wants to say that's not you singing on the record. If you're a journalist, you don't want them to say you didn't write that story, your sources are made up. Who are they? Nobody wants to be called like that."
He admits to some concern in his moment of glory as he wrapped up the race "after three weeks, especially three weeks that end in that way, because the Champs-Elysees is a hard circuit, it's not easy. So you just want to get done, you don't wanna crash. You don't wanna have any problems. Which I almost did. Because a city like this, with rain, it's disaster."
"I'm ready for a vacation. I'm ready. I'm incredibly excited that my kids are here, that my family is here, and Sheryl (girlfriend, rocker Sheryl Crow) is here. And now starts a whole new chapter in life."
And he says having his children with him on that victory stand meant the world to him.
"(It was) a dream. I wanted to be there one final time in (the winner's) yellow. I wanted them (his children) to be there with me. I wanted them to understand that that was what that meant for a sport, for a team, for me, for their dad. I wanted them also to understand that's the last time that I will do that, the last time Daddy will leave, the last time Daddy will race. And they got it. They really understood it. For me, I'm at peace with that and I'm ready to go on. They know what Daddy did and they know what Daddy's job is."
Armstrong told Smith he realizes how inspirational his story is to people, particularly cancer patients, but his legions of fans helped him as well, and may even have been what made him as successful as he was: "Consider the size and the scope of the illness, not just the people diagnosed, not just the people who survived, but the people it has touched, because when you have basically 250 million people realizing what's going on, and realizing that your story somewhat reflects theirs, that's powerful stuff. Nobody else, none of the other 180 guys who started three weeks ago had that advantage. Perhaps that's part of the secret.
"In the beginning, I kept -- anybody that would listen, doctors, nurses, I said, 'Am I going get better? Just tell me.' Everybody wants to know they're gonna do well, they're gonna survive, they're gonna be cured, they can move on in life, and look back on this awful illness as a blip on the radar screen.
"But (his urologist) just said to me, 'Look, I can't promise you you're gonna live. I can't promise you you're gonna get better. But what I can tell is that you are being held in the hearts and minds and souls of so many people right now, and I know that makes a difference.' And I'd never heard anything like that. And I thought, 'Wow. I like that.'"
"It's a powerful moment in the history of sports as well as the history of humankind to see somebody who has achieved what he has and to know that each one of us has that in us."