July 22, 2004
Six and out for Armstrong?
In a story that will also appear in tomorrow's New York Times, Samuel Abt quotes an unnamed Tour official that Lance Armstrong will NOT return to the Tour de France next year.
If he wins for a record sixth consecutive time, as seems certain, Armstrong will not return next year, the official said, but will focus instead on at least one of the two other big Tours, the Giro d'Italia in May and the Vuelta a España in September, plus many one-day classics.
Armstrong's camp says that's not so. Bill Stapleton, whose Tailwind Sports owns the Postal team, says next year hasn't even been discussed.
"It would be definitely incorrect to say he won't be back next year," he insisted.
Dan Osipow of Tailwind provides a few details on the new Discovery Channel sponsorship:
Osipow added that, under the new sponsorship by Discovery Channel next year, the team was obligated to ride in the Tour de France, although he was unsure whether Armstrong was.
The unnamed Tour official said Armstrong didn't want to seek a 7th Tour win, "out of respect for the four other riders who have won five times," and that he plans to participate more fully in the UCI's Pro Tour.
Armstrong didn't comment for the story, while Johan Bruyneel confirmed only that Armstrong would race next year: "A lot of things can change," Bruyneel told Abt.