Lance Leaves Door Open to 2009 Tour Appearance

Latest Press Release from the Armstrong Camp.

The route of the 2009 Tour de France strikes me as innovative and very interesting. From its start in Monte Carlo with a 15k time trial, to the reinstatement of the team time trial, to stages in my old hometown of Girona all the way to another visit to my old friend the Ventoux, I could not have hoped for a different Tour.

While there has been a fair bit of tension and numerous disagreements with the Tour and its organizers, I am well aware that there is new leadership at ASO and I look forward to upcoming conversations and to a mutually beneficial future together. Whether it's promoting the Livestrong global cancer campaign or making the biggest bike race in the world the gem that it deserves to be, I look forward to next year. I would also like to recognize the UCI and commend them for their aggressive stance against doping, a stance that is unmatched in all of world sport.

Lastly, as to the leadership of the Astana team in 2009. It is illogical to pre-select a leader for any race in October of the previous year. We are blessed at Astana to have the strongest team in the world and I look forward to riding with all of these great riders. I have been around long enough to know that cycling is a team sport and I am fully committed to supporting the strongest rider in any race. Whether that's me, Alberto Contador, Levi Leipheimer, or Andreas Kloden.

Interesting that this comes on the heels of today's comments from Eddie Merckx (as reported by Velonews), who might be considered an Armstrong insider, suggesting Lance wouldn't ride the Tour de France again. I get the feeling Lance is quite happy to settle the question of Team leadership "on the road." He neatly sidestepped the escalating discord with the ASO a few weeks back by suggesting he didn't need to ride the Tour, but I have the feeling it's still firmly in his sights. Today's rapprochement is an interesting step in this chess game.

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