Former world bike champion Lance Armstrong has confirmed he’s returning to cycling after a four-year hiatus!
After finishing 22 among 94 competitors in the Vegas cyclo-cross race for the Interbike convention he checked into a Presidential Suite at the Palazzo and dined immediately in Wolfgang Puck’s new CUT restaurant. Next morning he hosted fellow cyclist friends Tyler Phinney, who finished in seventh position during the summer Olympics in Beijing; his father Davis Phinney who won a 1984 bronze Olympic medal and Eddie Mercks, often regarded as the greatest and most successful cyclist of all time!
Lance then chatted at the neighboring sister Venetian resort hotel about the Global Cancer Awareness campaign that he heads up. Lance plans to start an initiative for bikers less than 23 years of age to get them race-ready. Tyler will be one of the group and Eddie’s son, Axel Mercks, will be the coach. “I want to create the best, youngest team in the world,” said Lance, who is being sponsored by Nike in the effort.
During his jam-packed 18-hour visit, the seven-time Tour de France winner met several wounded Iraq war veterans who had been flown into Vegas to stay at the Palazzo as owner Sheldon Adelson’s guests. He picked up their entire tab!
My next-door neighbor here, Tom Kaplan who is Wolfgang Puck’s managing partner and longtime Lance friend and biking partner, told me that the superstar athlete thanked them for their service as they landed in the private area of McCarran International Airport. Tom added that Lance would be racing for the Astansa team in the next series of international races!
The Kazakhstan government officially owns Astansa, which took over the original USPS team that became the Discovery Channel team, where Lance’s favorite coach, Yojan Bruneil, is now working -- and thus the connection!
Lance’s return to world championship biking is to raise awareness about cancer. Although he could earn millions of dollars returning to racing he’s doing this for no pay. He will resume racing, probably with the Australian championship, in January and then continue daily until next July’s Tour de France. At 36, he would be the oldest winner! Aware of drug accusations that will be leveled at him, Lance has decided he will undergo daily tests to prove there are none -- and they will be posted on the Internet daily as of January!
He’s already in great shape and toning up for the return with a lot of new training already underway. “I’m not going to race in the Tour de France just to get second place,” he said boldly.