Astana team denies report of Armstrong comeback in '09
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Lance Armstrong's reported comeback won't take place with the Astana cycling team.
"He is no part of our team," Astana team press officer Philippe Maertens told The Associated Press in an e-mail. "Team Astana has no plans with him."
The cycling journal VeloNews, citing anonymous sources, reported on its Web site Monday 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.
But Astana team director Johan Bruyneel, who was with Armstrong for all seven Tour wins from 1999 to 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.
Armstrong did not respond to a text message or voice mails.
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 Tour for testing positive 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 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 the e-mail. "He will do some cyclocross races as well in the USA."