Armstrong joins Astana (gets ToB invite) … over to you Alberto

Armstrong joins Astana (gets ToB invite)

by Tony Farrelly   September 24, 2008  

Armstrong 2005.JPG

According to Kazakhstan's cycling federation deputy president Nikolai Proskurin, Astana have won the race to sign Lance Armstrong. The move was widely expected in cycling circles because of Armstrong's close ties to Astana team boss Johan Bruyneel who managed him to seven Tour de France victories. There could be some fireworks in Spain though Armstrong's first race will be the Tour Down Under in January – which he will ride as part of his build up to winning an eigth Tour de France in July all of which is part of his greater goal of raising cancer awareness. Of Armstrong's return, Bruyneel has said that it is unthinkable that he could ride for another team and that he would find it impossiblle to leave him out of his team – a factor which clearly unsettled Contador. Speaking to the BBC Mr Proskurin acknowledged that accommodating both men in the same team was going to be difficult – perhaps not surprisingly though Astana are going to try. Mr Proskurin aid that Armstrong would share the leadership in the team with the current leader, Spaniard Alberto Contador, the 2007 Tour de France winner who has won the Tour of Spain and Giro d'Italia this season. "Currently there's certain tension in the team but I hope we are capable of keeping the situation under control," Proskurin said. "Armstrong will not be the only star, he will be one of the team's leaders." In other Armstrong-related news, Tour of Britain organisers today officially invited Lance and the Astana team to take part in the 2009 event. This year's race drew record crowds and the organisers are confident that next year's race will top that – particularly as the final stage will be run on the central London street circuit that proved so popular in 2008. Armstrong's presence would add even more to the crowds. It would certainly help with his bid to publicise the fight against cancer, partiuclarly if he rode as winner of the 2009 Tour de France.