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Armstrong to make Tour de France comeback

December 02, 2008 10:23 IST

Seven-times winner Lance Armstrong will make a Tour de France comeback next year, his spokesman told Reuters on Monday.

The 37-year-old rider announced in September he was coming out of retirement for the 2009 season.

A cancer survivor, Armstrong won the Tour for a record seven consecutive years from 1999-2005.

The American retired following his 2005 victory and has since devoted himself to the fight against cancer - raising funds and awareness through his foundation.

Armstrong, who will race for Astana, had already confirmed that he would race the Giro d'Italia, the Tour of Flanders and the Tour of California and several of the one-day classic races.

The Texas-born former road race world champion and bronze medallist from the Sydney Olympics in 2000, had said he would make his first race back in the Tour Down Under around Adelaide, Australia in January.

Armstrong has had a strained relationship with the Tour de France organisers, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), who said in October that his return would be "embarrassing."

The French daily newspaper L'Equipe, owned by ASO's parent company EPA (Editions Philippe Amaury), claimed three years ago that samples of Armstrong's urine from 1999 showed traces of the banned blood-boosting substance erythropoietin.

Armstrong, however, never tested positive and was cleared by a Dutch investigator appointed by the International Cycling Union.

The American has also questioned how safe he would be in France, expressing concerns about being targeted by fans.

Simon Evans
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