Armstrong announces new team for next year
Friday, July 24, 2009
ANNECY, France -- Lance Armstrong and RadioShack are forming a new cycling team that will compete in next year's Tour de France.
The seven-time Tour winner, who returned to cycling after 3 1/2 years of retirement, also said Thursday he expects to take part in running and triathlon events for Team RadioShack beginning in 2010.
"RadioShack has agreed to partner with us on this venture and ensure that this partnership and this team stays alive for years to come, continues to be at the head of the peloton," Armstrong said in a video on his Livestrong website.
Armstrong= is riding this year's Tour with the Kazakh-funded Astana team. He was in third place overall after Thursday's time trial, 5 minutes and 25 seconds behind teammate Alberto Contador.
"It's a huge opportunity for us as an organization and as a cancer survivor. It's pretty mega," Armstrong added after the stage in Annecy.
In a statement released by RadioShack, Armstrong said he has had "a great season so far" but is hoping for an even better one next year.
"To be able to compete for an American team comprised of the world's top cyclists, supported by the best coaches and staff -- I couldn't be happier," he said.
Armstrong did not indicate who else might join Team RadioShack, but he's expected to build a squad fully devoted to his ambitions. Armstrong has spent much of this year's race in support of Contador, who is expected to join another team next season.
"I heard that Lance was launching a new structure," Contador said. "But I just want to concentrate on winning the Tour and we will see afterwards."
Garmin-Slipstream's American manager Jonathan Vaughters, a former Armstrong teammate, said that none of his riders will join the new RadioShack team.
"All our riders but one will be under contract next year," Vaughters said. "That rider is faithful to the team."
Armstrong also did not say whether his longtime friend Johan Bruyneel, Astana's current manager, would join his new team. Bruyneel was with Armstrong for each of his Tour victories.
Armstrong said RadioShack will help his Livestrong Foundation in its fight against cancer. He said the electronics chain, with about 35,000 employees in nearly 6,000 stores, can provide the resources to field a team that can compete in the world's premier cycling race.
"We have an incredible opportunity to leverage RadioShack's connection to tens of millions of people to spread the Livestrong message," Armstrong said. "Also, in cycling, the technology we use on our bikes matters -- it allows us to compete at the highest level. It's important to me to partner with a brand that understands the role technology plays in people's lives."
Cycling's governing body president Pat McQuaid welcomed the creation of the new team.
"It's excellent news because it is a new American team, and it's a new sponsor coming into the sport," McQuaid said by phone. "It's definitely good for cycling and for the development of the sport in America. Look at what Armstrong has brought to the Tour de France this year. He's bringing the fame again to the sport of cycling next year, that's a good thing."
Astana has struggled with financial problems this year. In May, the International Cycling Union threatened to withdraw Astana's racing license after riders went unpaid for two months.
Armstrong is riding for free this season, but joined teammates in a protest at the Giro d'Italia when they wore jerseys with the sponsor's name faded out.
McQuaid couldn't say whether the RadioShack team would be granted the UCI Pro Tour licence, which is given to 20 teams and allows them automatic entry into the most prestigious races.
"I know that they've had their application in on time, which is last Monday," McQuaid said. "It then goes through a process of evaluation and eventually the license commission takes a decision based on a variety of criteria. I don't involve myself in all that."
RadioShack, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, said it will also sponsor the Livestrong Foundation's signature fundraiser, a 5K run/walk and cycling ride held in four cities throughout the United States.
"We know that cancer research and survivorship is near to the hearts of many of our associates and customers, and together with Lance and his foundation, we have the power to make a meaningful difference," RadioShack CEO Julian Day said.
Armstrong said other sponsors and partners will likely join his new team.
"The usual suspects will be Nike, Trek, maybe a couple others we are working on," he said.