Armstrong is shown with Didier Rous on his way to winning the 1996 Fleche Wallone. AFP PHOTO/Pascal PAVINI

Lance Armstrong will be back in the spring classics this year in a big way.

RadioShack sport director Johan Bruyneel told Biciciclismo that Armstrong will race Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Armstrong was a consistent classics performer before being stricken with cancer in 1996, twice finishing second at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and becoming the first American to win Flèche Wallonne.

Armstrong’s tentative schedule
  • Vuelta a Murcia, March 3-7
  • Milan-San Remo, March 20
  • Criterium International, March 27-28
  • Tour of Flanders, April 4
  • Amstel Gold Race, April 18
  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège, April 25
  • Tour of California, May 16-23
  • Dauphiné Libéré or Tour de Suisse, June
  • Tour de France, July 3-25

Following his dramatic return in 1998, Armstrong largely steered clear of the spring classics as his focus shifted to the Tour de France. He finished second in the Dutch classic Amstel Gold Race in 1999 and again in 2001 and participated in Milan-San Remo.

Bruyneel’s comments confirmed rumors that Armstrong was poised to race both Flanders and Liège.

Following his debut at the Tour Down Under, Armstrong will make his European season opener in early March at the five-day Vuelta a Murcia in Spain, a race that was a popular Armstrong stop during his Tour heyday.

He’ll also race the Criterium International in Corsica in late March after what’s expected to be a shot at Milan-San Remo, with nearly 300km of racing to help hone his fitness as he enters the northern classics.

His appearance at the Tour of Flanders in early April should draw huge crowds as well as give Armstrong a shot at riding some cobblestones ahead of this year’s Tour route, which includes one stage across Belgium with some pavé.

Armstrong on the cobbles at the Tour of Flanders in 2005. AFP PHOTO FRANCK FIFE

A dramatic return to Amstel Gold Race and then Liège will cap a busy spring campaign in Europe before the seven-time Tour champ returns to the United States to race in the Tour of California in its new date in May.

Bruyneel said they still haven’t decided whether Armstrong will race the Dauphiné Libéré or the Tour de Suisse in June as final preparation before the Tour.