Lance Armstrong has announced today that he will ride the 2009 Tour de France, ending speculation that he may miss the event.
The seven-times Tour de France winner has confirmed that he will take part in next year's edition of the race while at his Astana team's training camp on Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
Armstrong will ride on an Astana squad that will also include 2007 Tour champion Alberto Contador - it will be a test for both riders and the team to see where their allegences lie in July.
?I?m committed to riding for the best guy,? Armstrong told the Associated Press news agency on Monday night, admitting the heavy race schedule could mean he rides for Alberto Contador in the Tour de France.
?We?ll abide by the same code that I do: cycling is team sport, while we?d all like to win,? Armstrong said.
?If you?ve been away for three or four years, it would be silly for anybody to think I could pick up where I left off. I can tell you I feel better than ever, I feel stronger than ever on Dec. 1. How that translates to racing, we?ll have to see. Mentally, in terms of motivation, this feels like 1998-1999 to me.?
After expressed concerns about safety in France in recent weeks but dismissed the problem when speaking to AP. ?It?s not going to keep me from going and doing my job, and it?s not going to keep me from spreading my message.?
?I?m happy with the record (seven wins). I?m training hard and trying to be as competitive as possible. The main objective is the message of the foundation. That?s the first priority and if we ride moderately well, it helps get the message out.?
?The Tour is the biggest bike race in the world; we need it to tell this story on the biggest stage. There?s a mutual respect there, it hasn?t always been mutual love. We need them, they need us,? Armstrong said.
The Texan's confirmation of his participation in the Tour means that he will ride two grand tours next year - he has already confirmed his participation in next year's Giro d'Italia.
Armstrong announced his comeback from retirement in September, and since then has been vague about his participation in the Tour de France, instead confirming his interest in other races, including the Giro and spring classics.
Armstrong to ride 2009 Tour de France
Armstrong: still no drug-testing program
Armsrong visits Paris but doesn't want to talk about Tour de France
Armstrong speaks to Cycle Sport
Armstrong vs Hincapie at Tour Down Under
Armstrong to meet Tour officials before deciding on participation
Armstrong still playing it cool over Tour
Armstrong says he could not have hoped for a different Tour
Contador to stay with Astana and Armstrong
Lance Armstrong's Tour de France comeback in doubt
Armstrong to ride the 2009 Giro d'Italia
Armstrong rejects offer to re-test 1999 samples
Armstrong knew about six month rule
French offer Armstrong re-test of his 1999 Tour samples
Amrstrong hopes UCI show 'common sense' for Aussie return
Armstrong comeback in Tour Down Under faces possible delays
Watch Armstrong in Vegas 'Cross race
Armstrong confirms Ventoux time trial for 2009?
Armstrong's comeback starts in Australia
Wednesday Comment (September 24)
Contador says riding with Lance could be difficult
UCI president rubbishes Armstrong Tour buyout claims
Bruyneel talks up Armstrong's chances
The Wednesday Comment, Armstrong Edition (September 10)
Tour de France: Lance can race in 2009
Contador: Lance could win eighth Tour
Lance confirms 2009 comeback
Armstrong: No smoke without fire?
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