Lance Armstrong is back! He is officially signed with the Astana Professional Cycling Team out of Kazakhstan for 2009, but what about 2008?
Racing in what should be considered a training/warm-up race, Lance Armstrong has already tallied a victory in his first official race. At the Annual Tour de Gruene in Texas, Armstrong won the Individual Time Trial for the 35-39 age group. It took Lance 33 minutes and 14 seconds to complete the 16.6 km course and beat the second place rider by almost three minutes.
Yes, this is not a ProTour race, but it is something to test the legs of the cyclist coming off nearly three years of retirement, and a successful test at that. Armstrong does not have any other events scheduled for this year, but who knows where he might show up.
Contrary to popular belief, Armstrong has not committed to riding the Tour de France in 2009, but Lance has confirmed that he will ride in the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy). Lance is joining a strong team with 2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, and 2007 Tour de France second runner up Levi Leipheimer (both did not compete in 2008 since their team was not invited to the Tour).
With many good riders that could compete in any of the three grand tours, the question remains, who is the team leader for Team Astana?