We finally found one race Lance Armstrong couldn't win--the one to the altar.
Armstrong and Sheryl Crow have called off their wedding just four months after getting engaged and weeks before their expected nuptials.
They made the announcement in a joint statement late Friday.
"After much thought and consideration we have made a very tough decision to split up," they said. "We both have a deep love and respect for each other, and we ask that everyone respect our privacy during this very difficult time."
While no official wedding date had been announced, they had indicated the ceremony would take place this spring in Armstrong's adopted hometown of Austin, where they have been cohabitating for much of the past two years.
It would have been the first marriage for the "If It Makes You Happy" singer, who was previously involved with Owen Wilson and Eric Clapton, and second for Armstrong, who has three children from his first marriage.
Armstrong, 34, and Crow, 43, met at a charity event in October 2003 and instantly clicked. She was a fixture on Tour de France last July, rooting Armstrong on to his record seventh consecutive triumph.
He retired shortly thereafter, and during a late August mountain biking retreat to Sun Valley, Idaho, he popped the question.
Crow cited Amstrong and his children as the inspiration for the title cut on her latest album, Wildflower, released in September. Shortly after the album came out, she performed a free concert in Austin to mark the ninth anniversary of Armstrong's diagnosis with testicular cancer.
By November, however, the tabloids--which previously speculated that (a) Crow had been visiting fertility clinics and (b) that the couple had secretly married two years ago--went on breakup alert, but the couple tried to dispel the reports.
"When we were rumored to have split, and when our publicists called these magazines to say we haven't split, the magazines were all so disappointed because that's really what's selling, rooting for a couple and then they split," Crow told the Associated Press at the time. "That's what sells the magazines."
The rumors kicked in again in late December, but the couple issued another round of denials. In the February issue of Allure, Crow was photographed trying on wedding gowns and discussed having "adult time" with her betrothed before trying to have kids. Armstrong, in a solo trip to Johannesburg last month, also shot down the stories.
Despite the demise of their Armstrong called Crow "an unbelievable lady, one of the smartest, wisest, most gifted people I've ever met" during his Armstrong Radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio Sunday.
"Obviously, this week was a rough week for us," he said. "I'm torn that it didn't work out."
Armstrong then played the Wildflower track "Letter to God," which he called his favorite song.
At least for Crow there could be some happier news this week. A nine-time Grammy winner, Crow is up for three more at Wednesday's ceremony, including Best Pop Vocal Album for Wildflower.
(Updated Feb. 7 at 1:20 p.m. PT.)