The first of the European teams have arrived in Australia for this month’s Tour Down Under, but the travel details of cycling superstar Lance Armstrong were still under wraps on Thursday.
Armstrong’s Astana team is scheduled to arrive early on Sunday, but reports said that the Texan himself is not expected until next week, just ahead of the tour’s start on January 18. Race organisers have not released his arrival plans for fear of an unwieldy media scrum at Adelaide Airport.
Race director Mike Turtur said he expected pandemonium to break out every morning at the cyclists’ village and at the finish lines of the stage race.
“We’re expecting that Lance Armstrong will have more trouble getting to and from the start and finish lines than the actual race itself,” Turtur told the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper on Thursday.
Turtur said Armstrong’s appearance in the January 18-25 Australian event has attracted widespread interest from sports publications throughout Europe.
“The heavies are coming,” Turtur said. “It just shows the amount of interest Armstrong has created for Australia.”
Belgian team Silence-Lotto arrived in Adelaide on Thursday, but the team’s star Australian rider Cadel Evans, runner-up in the Tour de France on the last two occasions, will not be racing in the Tour Down Under, preferring to focus on his preparations for July’s Tour de France.
© AFP 2009