Economics experts are predicting that Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France rivalry against Astana team-mate Alberto Contador will do him no end of good if he’s serious about starting his own team.
Although it seems unlikely now that the seven-time winner will take this year’s title after Contador took Stage 15 at the weekend, Armstrong’s remarkable comeback has touched hearts and minds across the world, not least among the marketing men who see Armstrong as the biggest story of the 2009 Tour.
“Even people who aren’t fans of the Tour de France or fans of bicycling, they love this story about this guy coming back,” said Scott Harris, president and founder of US company Mustang Marketing.
“There will be a lot of people who will want to jump on that bandwagon. Assuming he finishes in the top three, and if he’s very fortunate and wins - he’ll be writing his own ticket. And the timing is great because the economy is going to start to come back a little bit.”
Astana is backed coalition of state-owned companies from Kazakhstan who have given more than €15 million of backing this year to the team.
In May, 37-year-old Armstrong told an Italian newspaper that he would like to own and ride in his own team, saying that the chances of it happening were ‘high’ and that we would ‘know more in July’.
However, Astana’s sponsors have just announced that they will extend their contract with both Armstrong and Contador for three years, and with a bigger budget. It remains to be seen how the two star riders will respond to this offer once the Tour finishes.
Bob Stapleton, owner of Tour de France franchise Team Columbia, said an Armstrong team might take sponsors including Nike and bike manufacturer Trek Bicycle with him and secure investors.