By Agence France Presse
America’s seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong announced on Monday that he will be trying for an unprecedented eighth Tour title as well as his first win at the Giro d’Italia.
The 37-year-old Texan had been thought to be solely focusing on the Giro, but said on Monday that he also intends to take on the Tour in July.
“Lance Armstrong announces his participation in the 2009 Tour de France,” announced his Astana team on its Web site.
“I have a lot of respect for this event and I am optimistic in the new direction that the Tour de France is taking.”
The decision is likely to increase speculation about the structure of the Astana team and its approach to the Tour, since Armstrong’s teammate Alberto Contador won the 2007 edition of the race.
Contador and Armstrong trained together for the first time on Sunday as the Astana team met on the Canary Islands for an early season training camp.
Contador, at only 25 became the fifth man to win all three of the sport’s major tours, has in the past expressed doubts over how the two men could fit snugly into the same team.
However, he has said he had been given assurances that he would remain team leader.
“If we both stick to our schedules, there won’t be a problem,” the Spaniard noted on his Web site over the weekend. “For me, it’s a pleasure to be in the same team as a man whom I have always admired.”