Sat, Jul 25, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Armstrong announces new team for next year’s Tour

AP , ANNECY, FRANCE

Lance Armstrong and RadioShack are forming a new cycling team that will compete in next year’s Tour de France.

The seven-time Tour winner also said on Thursday that he expects to take part in running and triathlon events for Team RadioShack beginning next year.

“RadioShack has agreed to partner with us on this venture and ensure that this partnership and this team stays alive for years to come, continues to be at the head of the peloton,” Armstrong said in a video on his Livestrong Web site.

He is riding this year’s Tour with the Kazakh-funded Astana team.

“It’s a huge opportunity for us as an organization and as a cancer survivor. It’s pretty mega,” Armstrong said after Thursday’s stage in the Tour.

Armstrong did not indicate who else might join Team RadioShack, but he’s expected to build a squad fully devoted to his ambitions.

Armstrong has spent much of this year’s race in support of Alberto Contador. Contador is expected to join another team next season.

Garmin Slipstream’s American manager Jonathan Vaughters, a former Armstrong teammate, said that none of his riders would join the new RadioShack team.

“All our riders but one will be under contract next year,” Vaughters said. “That rider is faithful to the team.”

Armstrong also did not say whether his longtime friend Johan Bruyneel, Astana’s current manager, would join his new team.

Bruyneel was with Armstrong for each of his Tour victories.

Pat McQuaid, the president of cycling’s governing body, welcomed the creation of the team.

“My reaction is good. It’s excellent news because it is a new American team, and it’s a new sponsor coming into the sport,” McQuaid said by phone. “It’s definitely good for cycling and for the development of the sport in America. Look at what Armstrong has brought to the Tour de France this year. He’s bringing the fame again to the sport of cycling next year, that’s a good thing.”

Astana has been hampered by financial problems this year.

In May, the International Cycling Union threatened to withdraw Astana’s racing license after riders went unpaid for two months.

Armstrong is riding for free this season, but led teammates in a protest at the Giro d’Italia when they wore jerseys with the sponsor’s name faded out.

McQuaid couldn’t immediately say if the new RadioShack team would be granted a UCI Pro Tour license, which is given to 20 teams and allows them automatic entry into the most prestigious races.

“I know that they’ve had their application in on time, which is last Monday,” McQuaid said. “They delivered it to us on Monday, it then goes through a process of evaluation and eventually the license commission takes a decision based on a variety of criteria — I don’t involve myself in all that.”

RadioShack, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, said it would also sponsor the Livestrong Foundation’s signature fundraiser, a 5km run/walk and bicycle ride held in four cities throughout the US.

Armstrong said other sponsors and partners would likely join his new team.

“The usual suspects will be Nike, Trek, maybe a couple others we are working on,” he said.

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