Report: Lance Armstrong To End Retirement
7-Time Tour De France Winner Will Compete In 2009 Event, Cycling Journal Says
AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 9, 2008
(AP) Lance Armstrong will end his retirement in an effort to compete at the 2009 Tour de France, the cycling journal VeloNews reported on its Web site Monday.
Citing anonymous sources, the journal reported that the 36-year-old seven-time Tour de France champion would compete in the Tour and four other road races with Astana in 2009.
The Astana cycling team, however, denied the report.
"There are no contacts or plans of Team Astana to take Lance Armstrong," team press officer Philippe Maertens told The Associated Press by phone from Belgium. "As far as I know, Lance Armstrong doesn't have plans to do road cycling.
"But that's a question you have to ask Armstrong," Maertens added. "We have no plans."
Astana team director Johan Bruyneel, who was with Armstrong for all seven Tour wins from 1999-2005, told cyclingnews.com that he was unaware of any Armstrong comeback.
"I don't know where the rumors come from," the Web site quoted him as saying.
Maertens said rumors that Armstrong might come out of retirement had been circulating for a few weeks.
"If it would be true that Armstrong wants to come back it would be stupid for us to say no," Maertens said, "but it's not the case."
Armstrong did not respond to a text message or voice mails left by the AP. Armstrong's manager Mark Higgins and Bruyneel also did not respond to voice mails left by the AP.
George Hincapie, a longtime Armstrong teammate, would not comment Monday afternoon following the first stage of the Tour of Missouri.
VeloNews reported Armstrong will compete in the Amgen Tour of California, Paris-Nice, the Tour de Georgia and the Dauphine-Libere, in addition to the Tour.
The Astana team, however, was not allowed to compete in this year's Tour after Alexandre Vinokourov was kicked out of the 2007 event after testing positive for a blood transfusion and the team quit the race.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency confirmed Armstrong is part of its out-of-competition testing pool and would be eligible for elite competition on Feb. 1, 2009. The Amgen Tour of California begins Feb. 14.
USA Cycling said Armstrong has not applied for an international cycling license, but chief operating officer Sean Petty said Armstrong typically did not request such a license until January or February.
Armstrong, who overcame testicular cancer, has largely turned his competitive juices to running marathons since he retired from competitive cycling three years ago.
In August, he finished second in the Leadville Trail 100, a lung-searing 100-mile mountain bike race through the Colorado Rockies.
"We know that Lance continued training hard after that mountain bike race," Maertens said in a separate e-mail to the AP. "He will do some cyclocross races as well in the USA."