September 9, 2008 (Austin, Texas) — Lance Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner who retired from pro cycling in 2005 announced today that he will return to pro racing according to a statement on his website:
“…I have decided to return to professional cycling in order to raise awareness of the global cancer burden.” Armstrong is a testicular cancer survivor. Armstrong will be trying to achieve an unprecedented eighth TdF win reports Reuters, citing an interview on the Vanity Fair magazine website.
It is unclear if Armstrong has discussed his return with any particular team. Long time friend Johan Bruyneel who manages the ProTour Astana team says that Armstrong has not been in touch hinting, however, that Armstrong would be welcome to join the team. Bruyneel was also the former team manager of U.S. Postal/Discovery Channel team that Armstrong rode for.
But joining Astana could have inherent problems because the team was not invited to the 2008 TdF due to doping problems at previous Tours. In addition the team’s roster also already counts Spain’s Alberto Contador, winner of the 2007 TdF and it’s difficult to imagine how two top contenders could ride for the same team. Finally there are questions about whether Armstrong, who now runs a bike shop in Austin and turns 37 on September 18, is still in shape for another TdF.
Meanwhile, Armstrong is expected in the Mont Tremblant region north of Montreal on Friday, September 12 for an exclusive 100km private ride with donors/fundraisers supporting the Cancer Care Mission of the McGill University Health Centre, in collaboration of the Cedars Cancer Institute. Armstrong recently participated at a charity ride in Calgary, Alberta, on August 22.
Apart from his charity rides and efforts to promote cancer awareness, Armstrong remains in the news in part because of his new-found role as a bicycle advocate and because of persistent rumours that suggest that he doped during his professional career. Armstrong also participates in marathons and raced in Colorado’s Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race in August, a non UCI-sanctioned race where he finished second overall.
For more on this story the Guardian, Lance Armstrong site.