By Andrew Hood
Lance Armstrong reaffirmed his intention to race the Tour de France again, but wouldn’t be specific on exactly when during a raucous welcoming home ceremony for the six-time Tour winner in his Texas hometown of Austin over the weekend.
While many of cycling’s top names were disputing the Olympic road race, Armstrong was being cheered by 60,000 fans and contemplating his future.
“I’ll definitely be back to the Tour,” Armstrong told The Associated Press, shortly before participating in a parade in his honor in his adopted hometown. “I think I have another year or two in me. That’s not just a random number. It’s what I think that my body can stand.”
In his first public comments in the United States since his July victory in France, Armstrong again suggested that he could focus on other races in 2005. He did not say if his next Tour de France would be next year or 2006.
Armstrong also said he wants to stay involved in the sport once he hangs up the bike for good, hinting he wants to remain close to his team which will roll on as the Discovery Channel team in 2005.
“I need to do something. Golf won’t do it,” Armstrong said. “It would make me very proud to be able to retire and stay involved in a program and continue to win the Tour with somebody else. Use my experience and time on a bike to help another person.”
He suggested Ukrainian standout Yaroslav Popovych could be that rider. Popovych recently signed a three-year deal with Armstrong’s newly sponsored Discovery Channel team.
“We think he’s a rider of the future in the Tour de France,” Armstrong said. “We think it’s tough right now to find another American to win the Tour. We think we have strong Americans who can contend or win stages, but we need to find someone who can win the Tour. At 24 years old, we think he’s that guy.”
Contador cleared to race
Alberto Contador, the young Liberty Seguros rider who suffered a brain seizure during the Vuelta a Asturias in May, has been cleared by doctors to race next season.
Contador fell during the first stage and doctors’ immediate reaction saved his life. He later underwent surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain and has spent much of the past two months in the hospital.
“It was a complicated operation,” Contador said on the team’s web page. “Now I’ve started to walk and little by little I can go to the hospital to regain my strength. The doctors are very optimistic and they’ve said if everything continues like this, I can begin training again in November.”
Cunego begins buildup for world’s
Giro d’Italia Damiano Cunego will race in this week’s series of one-day races in the “Trittico Lombardo” to build strength for the world championships, his top goal for the second half of the season. Cunego, who’s already confirmed he’ll race the Vuelta a España as run up for the world’s, will race the Coppa Agostoni on Wednesday and the Giro del Veneto on Saturday.
Officials from Cesenatico are holding a design contest for a planned statue in the hometown of fallen racer Marco Pantani, who died of a cocaine overdose in February. Local officials say they want a statue that’s no taller than 10 feet so that residents can “always remember Marco’s accomplishments in sport.” Officials hope to choose a design by November and have the memorial erected by next year.
Racing this weekThe Olympic time trial Wednesday closes the road racing events at the SummerGames
The Tour du Limousin (FRA 2.3) from Tuesday to Friday is the week’smajor stage race while one-day racing dominates the remainder of the week.The “Trittico Lombardo,” a trio of one-day races in northern Italy, startswith the Tre Valli Varesine on Tuesday, the Coppa Agostoni on Wednesdayand the Coppa Bernocchi on Thursday.
There’s also the Giro del Veneto on Saturday in Italy.
Tony Cruz and his U.S. Postal Service teammates line up for the GP StadZottegem on Tuesday in Belgium.
The weekend’s racing is highlighted by the Championship of Zürich on Saturday,the eighth of 10 World Cup events with Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) holdinga lead over recently crowned Olympic champion Paolo Bettini (Quick Step).
The Clasica Ciclista los Puertos on Sunday in Spain is expected to seethe return of racing for Iban Mayo (Euskaltel), who pulled out of the Tourde France.
Other racing includes Tour Beneden Maas on Saturday and the Dwars doorGendringen on Sunday in Holland and the GP Schwarzwald in Germany on Sunday.