Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lance Armstrong will race in the Centennial Giro d'Italia

"I never participated to a race in this country and I want to fill this gap. This is the Centennial Giro and I know how meaningful this is to Italian people".

MILAN, 13 october 2008 -The announcement is now official: Lance Armstrong accepted Rcs Sport's invitation and he will take part to the coming Giro d’Italia with more than ever the intention to play a leading role in the race. Last September he made publicly known his coming back to competition in 2009 as member of the Astana Team. He now said “yes” to the 2009 Centennial edition of the Giro. Rcs Sport Cycling race Manager, Angelo Zomegnan, recalls delighted the different stages of the happy decision: “From the time of his farewell to professional cycling in 2005, the friendly relationship between Lance Armstrong and myself never ended. This year, in the course of one of our frequent conversations, I sensed the possibility that Lance could come back into competition in a leading part. Such perception became an actual likelihood immediately after his extraordinary performance on August 9, 2008, during the Leadville, Colorado, 100 miles race, when riding a mountain bike in the Rocky Mountains, he came second, but in everybody's opinion: he was flying! Our contacts became more frequent between mid-August and mid-September, and on September 29, during a trip to Austin, Texas, where Armstrong lives, I officially invited Lance to the 2009 Giro d'Italia".
Hereafter, in Angelo Zomegnan's words, the reasons that induced Lance Armstrong to decide in favor of the Giro:
“First of all, once he decided to come back to professional cycling, Armstrong had to face the need to fill a gap: no cycling "campionissimo" ever allowed himself not to take part to the Giro d’Italia. Moreover, Lance is clearly the only one who could be able, after his victory in the Tour de France of the Centennial, to hit the legendary double with the Giro d’Italia Centennial edition due to take place in 2009, from May 9th to May 31st. Last but not least, Lance knows pretty well how much Italians love him, and this from the time he was a resident of the Como Lake, and such fondness is not to be found in any other European Country. To conclude, we would like to mention the Lance Armstrong Foundation project, or simply Livestrong, in which context Italy and the Giro could feature a particularly suitable and vivacious environment, apt to awaken public opinion in the fight against cancer." On his side Lance Armstrong would like to mention and make the following clear: "I am taking part to the Giro for several reasons. I never participated to a race in this country and I want to fill this gap. This is the Centennial Giro and I know how meaningful this is to Italian people. Moreover, Italy is the Country which hosted me when I was a young guy and I know that I have a lot of fans there. Everybody says that the Giro will be the kick-off to the Tour while I know I could come to Italy to be a winner and that the Giro will be my true three-week stage race of the year."

An exclusive interview with Lance Armstrong the day after he announced his participation in the Centenary edition of the Giro. The Texan announced: "I can't wait for the start."

"I want the pink jersey"
AUSTIN (TEXAS, USA), 14 October 2008 - Lance Armstrong's villa is the only one on the hillside surrounded entirely by walls, so it is impossible to see inside. The gates open only by appointment: ours comes at the end of a humid, sunny afternoon. On a comfy sofa, with original artworks on the walls, Lance relaxes barefoot in shorts and a shirt. He encourages us to take off our jackets. Texas, he says, isn't like Paris, Milan or New York: formality is unimportant here.
Armstrong, when did you decide to take part in the Giro? "Last week, though I'd been thinking about it for a long time. It was one of my major regrets of my career. But I'm attached to my routines. The first time I won in France I hadn't ridden the Giro first, so I didn't want to change a successful format. I'm very methodical in my private life too, changes unsettle me."

After the many doping cases which have excluded high profile riders, it's hard to trust the sport. "It's true, the trust has been lost, between riders, managers, organizers, journalists, sponsors and obviously the fans. But we're tested much more than in other sports. It's easier to find positive results with more tests. I'd like to see the same level of testing in other disciplines too. But do you think that footballers would ever accept the amount of testing we undergo?"
You're friends with Bush but you sound like an Obama supporter. "I've never said was a Democrat. I like Obama... but also McCain. I first met Bush when he was Governor of Texas. I like him, but I disagree with many of his choices. But he's a decent cyclist, a good attribute."
Is it true you're going to stand for the Governorship of Texas? "Perhaps in 2014. It's certainly something I've thought about, but it's a hard job that calls for sacrifices, just like cycling. My family's feelings on the matter will be crucial, as always."

You're a wine lover: don't tell us you prefer French wines? "I don't know them that well, but I adore Sassicaia and Tuscan wines."

Perhaps you'll get to uncork a bottle to celebrate the pink jersey? "Let's hope so. I can't wait for the day of the start."
from our correspondent Massimo Lopes Pegna
All content above, and photo, from La Gazzetta dello Sport

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