Armstrong: Astana could sweep Tour de France

Seven-time champion may race in 2010

Lance Armstrong says that his Astana team could sweep the podium at this year's Tour de France according to an online interview.

"We have five riders who have been in the top five in the tour," Armstrong said in an interview posted on news website The Daily Beast on Tuesday. "Theoretically, any of them could be very close to winning. And I think, more realistically than theoretically, you could perhaps put three guys on the podium if you did it right.”

Armstrong's other top-five teammates include 2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, whom Armstrong called "the best stage racer in the world", plus US compatriot Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Kloden and Haimar Zebeldia.

Armstrong also said he can see his comeback extending into 2010. "I don't want to limit it," he said. "It would be a little irrational to announce or even think about it now, because I haven't even started to race this year yet. But it has entered my mind.

Armstrong, who has run in marathons, hinted at a future in triathlon (which he starred in prior to taking up cycling) once his racing days are over.

He even spoke in general terms about a future in politics to the website's interviewer, who said he was a member of the board of Armstrong's foundation and spoke to the cycling star in Hawaii ahead of a ride in the Tour Down Under.

"If you feel like you can do the job better than people who are doing it now and you can really make a difference, then that's a real calling to serve and I think you have to do that," Armstrong said.

"I felt a strong desire to come back and race right now because I felt we had a place and I could have a real impact and that's why I'm doing it. I don't think you want to enter political life unless you really think you can really have an impact. Don't do it for a bet, or a dare or for your ego."

The seven-time Tour winner reiterated that he’s willing to play a supporting role in the team if manager Johan Buyneel asks. "I'm committed to riding and following the rules of cycling and supporting the strongest rider, whoever Johan thinks that is. I'll follow team orders," he said.

© AFP 2009

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