Armstrong To Ride For Kazakh Team
Kazakhstan Biking Honcho Says Seven-Time Tour de France Winner To Make It Official Today
ALMATY, Kazakhstan, Sept. 24, 2008
(CBS/AP) A Kazakh cycling federation official says seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will join Team Astana for his return to competitive cycling.
Federation deputy chief Nikolai Proskurin says Armstrong will be making a formal announcement at a news conference in New York today.
Armstrong is slated to appear on The Early Show this morning.
He says Armstrong agreed to ride for the Kazakhstan-based team for free for the first year and that his first race will take place in California.
The deal is a coup for the Kazakh team, which was thrown out of last year's Tour de France after Alexander Vinokourov tested positive for a blood transfusion.
Team Astana's leader is Johan Bruyneel,who was Armstrong's team director for all of his Tour de France victories.
Meanwhile, Australian officials said Wednesday that Armstrong would begin his comeback in the Tour Down Under in January.
Armstrong announced on Sept. 9 that he would return to cycling after three years in retirement and would attempt to win the Tour de France an eighth time.
There were reports in Madrid on Tuesday that 2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador of Spain would leave if Armstrong joined Astana.
"I've earned the right to be the leader of a team without having to fight for my place," Contador said in AS newspaper. "And with Armstrong, some difficult situations could arise in which the team would put him first and that would hurt me."
Contador won the Spanish Vuelta on Sunday. Combined with his 2008 Giro d'Italia title, he became just the fifth cyclist to win the three highest-regarded Tours.
"My intention is to stay (at Astana) because I have a contract until 2010, but I have already received a good number of offers from other teams," he said.