Lance Armstrong on Friday declared himself “happy” to be competing in the Milan-San Remo again after an absence of seven years.
“It will be an opportunity to see where I am,” the seven-time Tour de France winner said prior to his first European race since July 2005. “I’ve just finished 10 days’ training in France, and the more time goes on, the better I feel,” the Texan said, adding that he had set no specific goals for Saturday’s spring classic.
“But I’m a racer. I have to be prepared for any eventuality. If I’m in a position to attack, I will. My aims for the season are the Giro d’Italia (in May) and the Tour de France (in July). I want to be in peak condition by then,” said the Astana rider, while refusing to prioritise either race.
“In the past, I would have raced to win. But after a break of over three years, I can’t say anything. Nobody, in any sport, has managed this kind of comeback.”
Asked about his age, the 37-year-old smiled.
“The other day I saw a photo of myself and I thought: ‘I have grey hair now!’ But, on the other hand, I feel younger now than when I stopped racing. It’s done me good to get back into my old habits and to return to a sport that is a big part of my life.”
Armstrong has not revealed his schedule for April, following next week’s Tour of Castilla y Leon, which he will race alongside Spanish Astana team-mate Alberto Contador.
Berlusconi meeting prior to Giro
Armstrong also said he will meet with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi before competing in the Giro d’Italia on May 9-June 1 in a bid to raise awareness of the threat of cancer in Italy.
Armstrong, a cancer survivor who went on to claim a record seven Tour de France crowns, ended a three and a half year retirement in January in Australia where he was successful in lobbying the government to increase spending into fighting the disease.
The 37-year-old American said then he would make similar efforts to spread awareness of the disease in every country he visits this year, and on Friday told reporters he would hope to do the same in Italy.
“I will meet with Silvio Berlusconi before the Giro (d’Italia) to speak about the fight against cancer in Italy,” Armstrong said.
© AFP 2009