No, don't worry, this is not a scoop from an anti-Armstrong French journalist, it's news that America's sportsman-of-the-year has inked an advertising deal with the sugared-water folk from Atlanta.

Lance Armstrong linked to Coke usage

Yes, Lance Armstrong is to advertise Cola-Cola.

He’s part of Coca-Cola’s new ‘Real’ campaign which, says Coca-Cola "reflects genuine, authentic moments in life and the natural role the brand plays in them."

The "Coca-Cola … Real" concept will be used in all of Coca-Cola’s marketing initiatives and, naturally, is to be rolled out in the US first and will then trickle around the world throughout 2003.

"Consumers today are telling us they want brands that are genuine, authentic and real," said Chris Lowe, chief marketing officer, Coca-Cola North America.

"And these are values they associate more strongly with Coca-Cola than any other brand. Authenticity, originality and ‘real’ refreshment are part of our heritage, and what the brand has always stood for.

"That’s why ‘real’ is such relevant, natural turf for Coca-Cola," said Lowe. "This platform expresses those values in a contemporary way."

The "Coca-Cola … Real" marketing ‘platform’ features television, radio, print, online, cinema and outdoor executions. Television advertising will debut January 13th in the US.

"The ads convey what consumers told us it means to ‘be real’ — being true to yourself, plugging in to life and connecting with others, with a natural optimism," said Esther Lee, chief creative officer, Coca-Cola North America.

"Creatively, the upbeat tone of the campaign reflects the heart, fun and desire that are core characteristics of Coca-Cola."

The campaign features a number of famous actors and lifestyle executions, with Lance Armstrong being signed up for one of the ‘uplifting’ ads.

"It was important for us to involve celebrities who are genuine, who really connect with others and, most importantly, are comfortable with being themselves," said Lee.

"The spots feature them in real situations, enjoying life and Coca-Cola in their own unique and personal way."

No news yet on what the Lance Armstrong ad features but Coca-Cola bottles used to be prominent during coverage of the Tour de France. Not any more, though. The official soft-drink of the Tour de France is now Valvert from the Nestlé Group.

In other news...

Cycling UK chief responds to Government’s plan to back motorists, calls for ‘holistic’ approach to travel

Cycling UK’s chief executive is calling on the UK Government to take a “holistic” approach …