ARMSTRONG STILL PLAYING IT COOL OVER TOUR
News agency AP reports that even whilst Lance Armstrong's comeback to racing gathers pace, the American remains unsure whether the Tour de France in 2009 is on his schedule.
According to AP, Armstrong - currently taking part in wind tunnel testing in San Diego - indicated that fears over his safety and his unpopularity in France were partly responsible for the question marks over a possible bid for an eighth Tour win.
Last month it was revealed in a survey that nearly 70 percent of the French public did not want Armstrong to come back to the Tour, whilst almost 50 percent did want him to come back to racing at all.
Speaking at the Tour de France presentation, Astana team manager Johan Bruyneel said it was still "50-50" whether Armstrong would participate next year.
One of the reasons behind Armstrong's continued doubts are, apparently, questions over his security. The 37-year-old compared watching a football game in Texas where he was ‘sort of protected’ in a stadium with the feeling of vulnerability he had riding a bike.
“If they hate you and you’re on the roads and they want you, they can get you,” Armstrong said.
In the past Armstrong has stated he suffered from anonymous threats in the last few Tours he rode.
As for his difficult relationship with France - a country he regularly claims he loves - Armstrong suggested to AP that changing his nationality from American to French might be the only thing to improve it.
“The only way it would change is if I gave up my American citizenship and became a French citizen, which is obviously not going to happen. And that might not even change it.”
As for actually racing the Tour, Armstrong says that he is not playing games, rather he is genuinely not sure yet whether a return is on the cards.
“I simply don’t know, I’m not in a hurry, it’s November.”
“I know there is tension. There is tension with French cycling fans, with French media and certainly tension with the organizers.
“And right now I don’t want to deal with tension. And I don’t know if I want to deal with tension in July.”
Elsewhere it has been reported that Armstrong is considerably upping his European race program from the three races (Paris-Nice, Tour of Italy and Dauphine Libere) originally on his 2009 schedule. The Criterium International and Circuite de la Sarthe stage races, together with at least some of the Classics - including Flanders - are apparently possible additions to the Texan’s comeback program for 2009.
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The Wednesday Comment, Armstrong Edition (September 10)
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