Return of Lance

by Jack  

Lance Armstrong formally announced his plans for returning to the pro peloton today. In a news conference given while he was attending the Clinton Global Initiative, Armstrong filled in some of the blanks that were left after he shocked the world in announcing his comeback on September 9th.

Lance confirmed that he will ride with the Astana team of his former director and friend Johan Bruyneel and that his 2009 campaign will begin in the southern hemisphere at the Tour Down Under. The only other confirmation of a race he will ride is the Tour de France. Lance mentioned nothing about the Tour of California nor the Tour de Georgia. Armstrong did mention that his number one goal is to help the cancer community and that mission will probably take him to many places he may not have raced in the past. Lance left open a question about riding the Giro, saying that it would be interesting to race there because it will be the 100th anniversary of the Giro, a race he's never ridden, and that it will give him an opportunity to speak with Prime Minister Berlusconi about cancer awareness in Italy.

Lance did address the issue about Alberto Contador. He acknowledged reading about Contador's recent remarks, saying it would be difficult having Armstrong on the same team, by answering he would like to see Contador stay but that if he decided to leave, it is his right. The Armstrong/Contador issue is the next big drama to come out of this and there is surely more gossip to be produced. Besides Contador, Levi Leipheimer is in a tough situation too. Before Armstrong's return, Leipheimer was second fiddle. Now he will be third fiddle. Will Levi look for a new team now too?

Armstrong did a good job answering some tough questions about the foundation, his comeback and the formation of an under-23 "Livestrong" team to be lead by Axel Merkx (of which the first big signing is young Taylor Phinney). If anyone does question his ability to return to the top of the sport while campaigning for cancer awareness, please listen to what he has to say. He gives a very compelling reason to follow the 2009 season.

Click here for the entire news conference. It's about 40 minutes long so grab a cold one.

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