Seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is coming out of retirement, he confirmed Tuesday.
"I am happy to announce that after talking with my children, my family and my closest friends, I have decided to return to professional cycling in order to raise awareness of the global cancer burden," he said in a statement.
The return of one of cycling's most dynamic figures had been rumoured in recent weeks but the 36-year-old American had remained silent until the Web posting.
Armstrong will compete in the 2009 Tour de France, the Amgen Tour of California, the Paris-Nice, the Tour de Georgia, and the Dauphine-Libere, the cycling magazine Velonews reported Monday, citing anonymous sources.
Velonews said he would race for the Astana cycling team but its manager, Johan Bruyneel, told Reuters earlier Tuesday there had been no contact between Armstrong and the team.
Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer in the 1990s, won the Tour de France, cycling's most famous race, a record-breaking seven consecutive years from 1999-2005.
He has been an outspoken cancer advocate, raising funds and awareness of the disease.
Armstrong has lobbied President Bush to increase funding for cancer research and over the weekend questioned the two U.S. presidential candidates about how they would go about accelerating the fight against the disease.
"This year alone, nearly eight million people will die of cancer worldwide," he said in his statement. "Millions more will suffer in isolation, victims not only of the disease but of social stigma.
"After the passage of Proposition 15 in Texas, a $3 billion (1.7 billion pounds) investment in the fight against cancer which is helping to make this disease part of the national dialogue in America, it's now time to address cancer on a global level."
(Writing by Steve Ginsburg; Editing by Dave Thompson)