Armstrong to meet Tour organisers
Cyclist concerned by problems in France from his old critics if he returns to Tour.
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2008 17:27 GMT

Johan Bruyneel chats with the Astana team [GALLO/GETTY]
Lance Armstrong is waiting for a meeting with Tour de France organisers before deciding whether to enter next year's race.

The seven-time Tour champion, who is scheduled to race the Giro d'Italia for the first time as part of his comeback in 2009, has expressed doubts over whether he would try for another Tour title because of the problems he might encounter in France from organisers, journalists and fans.

Armstrong has feuded for years with Tour officials over drug-testing issues, but Tour director Christian Prudhomme has said he and the Astana team will be allowed to race next year, as long as they avoid doping problems.

Astana was banned from this year's Tour.

Facing critics

The Italian Gazzetta dello Sport quoted Johan Bruyneel, Armstrong's team director at Astana, as saying "The decision will be made down the road, after having talked with the organisers.

"We have asked for a meeting."

"I don't expect everyone in France to be friendly, but there should at least be a serene atmosphere," Bruyneel said.

"Anyhow, Lance is accustomed to finding motivation out of anger and grudges."

The 100th anniversary edition of the Giro is scheduled for May 9-31.

The Tour de France starts July 4.

Armstrong is slated to begin his comeback at the January 20-25 Tour Down Under in Australia, then ride the Tour of California.

He will also enter the Criterium International and Tour of Flanders classic, Bruyneel said.

"We'll do a few mountain training sessions to study the key stages of the Giro," Bruyneel said.

"As a preparatory race we'll either go to the Tour de Romandie (in Switzerland) or the Giro del Trentino (in Italy)."

Contador had expressed concerns about his position on the team [GALLO/GETTY]
Contador staying put

Bruyneel said he didn't need to do much to convince 2007 Tour winner Alberto Contador to stay with Astana when Armstrong announced his return.

"There was a contract through 2010 that had to be respected," Bruyneel said.

"The fact that another rider comes in doesn't authorise him to break it.

"I have a friend at Real Madrid who told me that when they were signing (David) Beckham they didn't ask for Ronaldo's opinion.

"Contador will have the same support he had the last two years, and at the end he'll understand that this is the best team for him, with or without Armstrong.

"The philosophy will be the same, we will favour the strongest rider."

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