Earlier today I posted a story from Velonews who were reporting that Lance Armstrong was preparing to come out of retirement and ride for Team Astana next year in five races, including the Tour de France. When I posted the story, I said to take it with a large grain of salt, and now it seems that was probably a good idea.
ESPN is reporting that Astana has refuted the story, saying that Lance has not joined their team, and there are no plans to have him ride for them in 2009. A team spokesman said: “Team Astana has no plans with him.”
Meanwhile, the Armstrong camp has remained mum on the subject, and calls to Lance’s managers have gone unanswered, even as the rumors swirled today. Apparently, in cycling circles, this rumor as been around for the past couple of weeks, with Velonews breaking the story today, and setting off a great deal of speculation.
One key element that I didn’t mention in the earlier post was that in addition to not taking any pay or bonuses for riding, it is being reported that Lance would also publish the results of his drug tests online for everyone to see. In the years since his retirement, there have been some who have questions whether or not he was clean during his seven year reign as the King of the Tour.
Personally, I still think this story is a bit far fetched. While I’d love to see Lance come back and ride the Tour again, I also wouldn’t want it to diminish his legacy. He went out on top after winning seven straight, and that’s what I want to remember. Lance turns 37 on the 18th of the month, and hasn’t competed on that grand stage in three years. Over coming those issues could be more than even superman can handle. Then again, seeing Lance kick French ass again could be fun!
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