A few years ago, while holidaying in Darwin, I got chatting with another hotel guest in the pool (as you do). She told me about the book she was reading, Lance Armstrong's auto-biography It's Not About the Bike, and recommended that I read it. That afternoon, I saw Dodgeball at the cinema, in which Lance has a cameo role. It was a sign, I thought, and when I saw his book for sale after my return to Melbourne, I bought a copy.

I'm not usually interested in athletes' biographies, but Lance has an amazing story. By the time he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996 at the age of 25, it had already spread to his lungs and brain. His chances of a successful recovery were slim. However, his cancer treatment was tailored to give him the best chance of returning to sport. And it worked.

I'm sure that everyone knows about his amazing comeback, culminating in his winning the Tour de France in 1999. Of course, it didn't stop there. Lance went on to win the Tour a record-breaking seven times in a row, before retiring in 2005.

Once I'd read It's Not About the Bike, I was hooked. Hooked on Lance Armstrong and hooked on the greatest bike race in the world, the Tour de France.

I went on to read many books about the Tour de France and its history, and borrowed DVDs of previous years' Tours to watch. It's such an amazing event, full of thrills and spills, and almost superhuman physical strength!

In recent years, I have loved watching Australian riders do well in the Tour and other big races - Cadel Evans, Simon Gerrans, Stuart O'Grady, Robbie McEwen, etc. There are many terrific Australian cyclists making their mark on the international scene. I've slowly converted Tim into a cycling fan too, and we barracked together for Cadel during the last two Tours!

Then came the big news that Lance Armstrong was going to return to professional cycling! So exciting! And his first event would be the 2009 Tour Down Under!

I had never thought I'd get a chance to see Lance Armstrong ride, so of course we travelled to Adelaide to see if we could catch a glimpse. We were also looking forward to watching the Tour Down Under in person, on its 10th anniversary and its first year on the ProTour circuit - the first such race to achieve that status in the southern hemisphere.

We did catch sight of Lance being interviewed before Stage 3 (just follow the crowds!), and it was wonderful to watch all the cyclists ride out of Unley.

Lance Armstrong being interviewed at Tour Down Under 2009

Lance Armstrong at beginning of Stage 3, Tour Down Under 2009

We also got a great little spot to watch Stage 6, which consisted of 18 laps around a road circuit just north of the city. Um, no decent photos I'm afraid - the cyclists were going so fast that they were just blurs! But we loved watching the race, which Australia's own Allan Davis won.

Fast forward a few months to my favourite bike race - le Tour! So far it has been wonderful, exciting and unpredictable. The individual time trial showed how strong Alberto Contador is, the split in Stage 3 shook up the pecking order putting Lance Armstrong in a great position, and the team time trial (a discipline that I love to watch!) saw Team Astana blow the other teams away!

As an Australian, of course I am barracking for Cadel Evans (although he is in a tough spot at the moment). But it was Lance Armstrong that introduced me to the sport of professional cycling that I now love so much. So GO LANCE!!!