Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Lance plans Thursday announcement
BOURG-SAINT-MAURICE, France -- Lance Armstrong says he's found a new American sponsor to back Astana next year. He won't say if he will stay with the team or start his own squad.
"Making a very cool announcement on Thursday re: a new American partner for our team in 2010 (and beyond). Stay tuned!" Armstrong said on his Twitter feed Tuesday, without elaborating.
The seven-time Tour de France champion returned to competition this year after 3½ years of retirement and has previously hinted he could ride for another season, including a return to the Tour.
Armstrong told The Associated Press by phone after Tuesday's 16th stage he was leaning toward riding in next year's Tour.
"There's a pretty good chance I'll be there," Armstrong said.
He wouldn't say whether he will quit Astana, which has been hampered by serious financial problems this year.
In an e-mail to The Associated Press on Tuesday, Armstrong's manager Mark Higgins wrote that he will ride "for sure" in the 2010 Tour.
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.
Astana receives most of its financial support from Kazakh state holding company Samruk-Kazyna, but the central Asian nation's economy has been hard hit by the global financial crisis.
Before the Giro, Armstrong said he received "high interest" from sponsors willing to back his cycling team if he took control of Astana.