Reactions to the news that Lance Armstrong will return to professional cycling are flowing in from around the cycling world. Bruyneel, meanwhile, is working with the team managment at Astana to bring Armstrong to the Kazakh team. He called it only "a matter of time."
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Le Tour de France. We begin with the all-important ASO, who in a press statement today, said that Armstrong would be welcome, providing he follows the necessary rules. Said Christian Prudhomme, "As soon as his team and he himself submit to the rules, concerning notabley doping and anti-doping, of which attitudes have changed very much in the last few years." As long as anti-doping will be a priority, "we will accept him," reiterated the Tour chief. Prudhomme also alluded to the "suspicions" that have accompanied Armstrong's "victories since 1999."
Prudhomme does not expect the American to win an eighth Tour. "I class this return as a challenge. There are very few athletes who succeed in their return in the way of Michael Jordan. It is a true challenge to return after three years away, even if he has finished second in a mountain bike race recently," Prudhomme concluded. He also wondered at Armstrong's age. To be sure, Raymond Poulidor finished 2nd in the Tour at age 38 in 1974 and 3rd in 1976, at age 40, but it is already mid-September, and "the water will flow quickly under the bridge" between now and the Tour start in Monaco.
Other comments, below the fold.
Jan Ullrich. If Lance returns, must I also start again. Seriously: I have not yet thought about it.
Bjarne Riis. When one has already won so many races in a career as he has, one can only only lose by returning.
Carlos Sastre. After three years without competition, it will not be easy. But, that's Armstrong."
Alberto Contador. Me, I open the doors of the team... Armstrong will return at a good level, because he would never imagine doing this if he thought it would go badly. I admire him very much, and I will like to have the chance to work with him.
Denis Leproux, DS, Agritubel. He wants to prove, what? He left, and voilà, now he wants to return. This is bizarre. I find it at the same time a bit ridiculous and sad for cycling. One thing is sure: cycling is not going to give a good image of him in his return to competition.
Marc Madiot, DS, Français des Jeux. That he mobilizes himself for the fight against cancer, that is good. That is good news. Now, that he returns to high level competition, I do not know if that is the best of solutions... This appears to me totally surreal. Let us wait and see, but at the first glance, I do not see how he can win the Tour de France again... But before pretending to win another Tour, it is necessary above all that Lance Armstrong explain what took place in 1999.
Bernard Hinault. Jeannie Longo is still here at nearly 50 years of age, so Lance Armstrong has still all the time before him.... Am I surprised by his return? Yes and no. Yes, in so far as he had quite racing, and no in so far as he will not be the first or the last to attempt a come-back of this type. Now, would he have the capacities to develop further at the highest levels, this I do not know. One should know more at the time of Paris-Nice. Personally, I was never tempted by a come-back in my time: Rather than returning to competition, I think it would be better not to stop.
Jean-René Bernaudeau, DS Bweeg. I do not know what to think. In any case, the come-backs in this style, it is not at all my conception of sport. Me, when I ended my career, I could assure you that I did not want to ride the bike any more, I was used up. Hinault has never done this.... With Armstrong, one has the impression that all is easy: He has stopped for three years, and it will return as if it were nothing. It is not like that, cycling.
Jörg Jaksche. If he returns, he will win the Tour.Sources, L'Équipe.fr and radsport-news.com.