The will he/won't he saga of whether Lance Armstrong the world's most famous cyclist will compete in next year's Tour de France – the world's biggest race – was finally ended yesterday when Armstrong announced his intention to attempt the Tour/Giro double for the first time in his career. Did anyone really think this wasn't going to happen?
Speaking from his Astana team's training camp in Tenerife Armstrong told his website "I'm committed to riding for the best guy," he also acknowledged the taxing schedule could leave him riding in a supporting role in France.
"We'll abide by the same code that I do: cycling is team sport, while we'd all like to win." he told the Associated Press (AP).
Significantly Alberto Contador, the winner of the 2007 Tour and the 2008 Giro and Vuelta is not competing in the Italian race so that he can focus on regaining the Tour crown he was prevented from defending in 2008 when Astana were barred from the race.
Even for a man of Armstrong's phenomenal achievements taking on a fresh and focused Contador after riding the Giro is likely to be a challenge too far. Although Armstrong says his motivation levels are as high as when preparing for his first Tour win he has also been careful to try to rein in public expectations.
Armstrong's comeback is dedicated to raising cancer awareness and he told his site:
"I'm happy with the record (seven wins). I'm training hard and trying to be as competitive as possible," he said. "The main objective is the message of the foundation. That's the first priority and if we ride moderately well, it helps get the message out."
Contacted by AP French anti-doping agency chief Pierre Bordry would only say "he will treated like everyone else" when it comes to drug testing.
Last week Armstrong stopped over in Paris en-route to the Astana training camp in Tenerife at the time suggestions that he was meeting with Tour bosses were dismissed – now those suggestions look less fanciful. While in France Armstrong played down his earlier comments regarding his fears for his safety while riding the Tour and while those fears are probably realistic, he received more than one death threat during his domination of the race – including one accompanied by live ammunition – it certainly didn't stop him then and it won't stop him in 2009 either.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.