Armstrong to Race in 2009 Tour de France
Lance Armstrong confirmed Monday that he would ride in the 2009 Tour de France.
The seven-time Tour champion made the announcement on his Web site from Tenerife in the Canary Islands, where he is training with Team Astana.
According to Washington Post, Armstrong acknowledged his body might not perform at the same level it did when he last won the Tour in 2005.
“If you’ve been away for three or four years, it would be silly for anybody to think I could pick up where I left off,” Armstrong said in a telephone interview from Tenerife. “I can tell you I feel better than ever, I feel stronger than ever on December 1. How that translates to racing, we’ll have to see.”
The French reaction will probably be less happy because of Armstrong’s strained connection with officials for the Amaury Sport Organization, which owns the Tour. Those people have never distanced themselves from reports that surfaced in 2005 that accused Armstrong of using performance-enhancing drugs during his first Tour success in 1999.
But Armstrong needs the Tour de France, and he told the Associated Press that the race needs him.
Armstrong’s announcement to ride gives the Astana team a superstar lineup in France, including 2007 Tour winner Alberto Contador. He missed last year’s race because Astana was barred from riding for previous doping violations. Also riding with Astana is Germany’s Andreas Kloeden, American veteran Levi Leipheimer and top support rider Yaroslav Popovych. Astana is considered by far the strongest multistage team.