ARMSTRONG SHOWS COMEBACK FORM IN TEXAS TT

Looking lean and mean, Lance Armstrong confirmed he is serious about making a competitive comeback by winning both time trials in the Tour de Gruene event in Texas at the weekend.

Wearing an all-black Livestrong skinsuit and aero helmet, the 37-year-old former Tour de France winner set a time of 33-14 for the 26.6km flat individual time trial on Saturday. That was an average speed of 48.28km/h and beat younger local rival Erick Benz.

On Sunday, Armstrong took his second win with close friend John Korioth in the 43.7km two-up time trial. The pair set a time of 56.37 for the course, beating nearest rivals David Wenger and Steven Wheeler by 2-34.

The weekend of racing at the Tour de Gruene includes sportive rides and family events but Armstrong took it seriously as the days quickly tick down to his official comeback in the Tour Down Under next January.

“Overall I would say I was moderately pleased,” Armstrong told the San Antonio Express.

“I wasn’t ecstatic. I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Armstrong said. “Oh man, the crowds were super. It’s hard suffering through the race but when you have people there being supportive, it makes the suffering a little more bearable.”

Quizzed about if he will ride the 2009 Tour de France, Armstrong continued to play a game of bluff.

“I don’t think it’s a green light or a red light. There’s no deadline We’re going to look at the season and two things: first, my international cancer plan and second, my season and preparation,” Armstrong said.

On Tuesday Armstrong heads to San Diego for position and equipment testing in the Air and Space technology Center wind tunnel.

?LANCE SHOULD SIGN SIMEONI?

Italian cycling journalist Gian Paolo Porreca has called on Lance Armstrong to sign Filippo Simeoni for 2009 after the current Italian national champion revealed he still has not found a team for next season.

Armstrong and Simeoni clashed during the 2004 Tour de France after Simeoni said Dr Michele Ferrari prescribed him EPO and GH during Ferrari?s trial for doping on Bologna. Armstrong chased down Simeoni when he went in a break and criticised him afterwards when speaking to journalists.

Simeoni won the Italian national title in June and wore the red, white and green ?tricolore? jersey during the 2008 season while riding for the Flaminia team. He hopes to ride the centenary edition of the 2009 Giro but has so far been unable to find a team that has a guaranteed place in the race.

In a comment on the tuttobiciweb.it site, Porreca called on Armstrong to make peace with Simeoni and sign him so that he could ride the 2009 Giro.

?It seems natural to come up with a proposal and not a provocation. Why doesn?t Lance Armstrong invite his former enemy Simeoni to ride for his new team? It would be a magnificent gesture of solidarity and respect.? Porreca writes.

?He?s already been invited to the centenary edition of the Giro d?Italia so why not invite Simeoni so that cycling, just like life, returns to being about real feelings and not about revenge.?

Cycling Weekly has forwarded the idea to Lance Armstrong to get his reaction.

FANINI FACES DOPING QUESTIONS

The owner of the Amore e Vita-MacDonald?s team Ivano Fanini will be questioned in Rome today after making wide-ranging doping accusations during the recent world championships in Italy.

Fanini has been involved in cycling for over 30 years and helped the likes of Mario Cipollini, Michele Bartoli, Rolf Sorensen but has taken a strong and often vocal stance against doping, often making accusations of wide-spread doping in professional cycling.

Before the world championships he told the La Stampa newspaper: ?A doped rider will win, otherwise they wouldn?t have a chance, and they will beat a doped rider and another doped rider. If riders are treated ?intelligently? the anti-doping isn?t a problem.?

For this and other accusations, Fanini has been called to Rome to confirm his accusations and supply evidence to back them up.

RABOBANK CONFIRM 2009 LINE-UP

The Rabobank team has unveiled its line-up for 2009, confirming the Dutch team will include 30 riders.

Former star Thomas Dekker has moved on to Silence-Lotto. He has been replaced by Belgium?s Nick Nuyens, Lars Boom and Juan-Manuel Garate of Spain.

Riders retained for 2009 are: Ardila, Brown, De Groot, De Maar, Flecha, Flens, Freire, Gesink, Haymann, Horrilo, Kozontchuk, Langeveld, Leezer, Martens, Menchov, Moerenhout, Mollema, Niermann, Posthuma, Reus, Tankink, Ten Dam and Weening.

The seven riders are Boom (from the Rabobank Continental team), Clement (Bouygues Telecom), Garate (Quick Step), Nuyens (Cofidis), Stamsnijder (Gerolsteiner), Tjallingi (Silence Lotto) and Van Emden (Rabobank Continental).

RELATED LINKS

2009 Tour de France route announced

Monday’s international news round-up – includes list of 2009 Giro stages