Lance Armstrong is still keeping the world guessing as to whether his return to racing will include a commitment to the 2009 Tour de France. That may well be because he himself doesn’t yet know if he wants to put himself through the world’s toughest sporting event again at the age of 37. There is also of course, his troubled relationship with the French press, race organisers and fans to consider, and the fact that Alberto Contador, the 2008 winner is totally committed to another victory and is the natural choice to lead the Astana team.
That said, knowing Lance’s incredible and unbreakable resolve to prove his critics wrong, and how its worked for him in the past, I don’t think he will pass on the opportunities to
a) Win another tour against all odds and
b) Capitalise on the massive media attention this will generate around his mission to fight Cancer through Livestrong and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
What is interesting to me right now is his pre-race event schedule. How will Armstrong prepare for a return to cycling competition at the highest possible level after a three year hiatus? And how will he fare in the events that lead up to the tour. I think that this, more than anything, will determine whether we see him on the start line in Monaco on July 4.
Here is my breakdown of Lance Armstrong’s pre-Tour event schedule running up to the 2009 Tour de France. I will try to keep this up to date as changes occur.
Tour de Greune
November 2 2008
A “beautiful ride” and local event for Armstrong, this texan team time trial over 26km is not a major cycling event in international terms. Lance has participated in the past teamed up with old friend and legend Eddie Merckx.
Result: Won it by over a minute overall and by 3 minutes in his age group with 33:14.
“ Finished with the Tour de Greune TTT. College and I smoked ‘em. Won by 3 mins. Felt better today.”
2009 Tour Down Under
18 – 25 January 2009
To quote Robyn Williams, this race is going to be “hot, damn hot!”.
The Tour Down Under is the largest and most prestigious cycling event to be held outside of Europe and the stifling conditions may suit Armstrong’s Texan roots.
2009 Tour of California
February 14 – 22 2009
The biggest cycling stage race in the US. In 2007 and 2008 it was won by his Discovery and Astana team mate, Levi Leipheimer.
2009 Giro d’Italia
May 9 – 31 2009
Armstrong’s previous focus on the Tour never saw him compete in the Giro, another cycling race etched into cycling history that nearly every other great tour rider has managed to win, from Miguel Indurain to Eddie Merckx and Jacques Anquetil, and even newcomers like Contador. Second only to the tour in the stage race hierarchy, this three week trek through the alps will see its 100th anniversary in 2009.
Along with the Tour de France and the UCI World Championships (which Armstrong won in 1993), the Giro is a component of the Triple Crown of Cycling.
And here’s the daddy of all cycling events that I’m willing to bet this schedule will culminate in, the 2009 Tour de France route map:
Map of Tour de France 2009 Route
Incidentally, Lance Armstrong recently signed up to Twitter, you can follow him here.
Filed under: Lance Armstrong on October 28th, 2008