Lance Armstrong believes it is possible Team Astana could take all three spots on the final Tour de France podium. The seven-time race winner considers himself and four of his teammates as favourites for the French stage race, July 4 to 26.
"We have five riders that have been top five in the Tour. ... Theoretically any of them could be very close. And I think more realistically than theoretically, you could perhaps put three guys on the podium if you did it right," said Armstrong to The Daily Beast.
Armstrong, 37, announced his comeback to the sport in September. He joined his old team director, Johan Bruyneel, at Team Astana. The team has in its roster four other riders who have finished in the top five of the Tour de France – Alberto Contador, Andreas Klöden, Levi Leipheimer and Haimar Zubeldia. Contador won the Tour in 2007 and the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España last year.
"It's by far strongest team in the world. Also it has the best stage racer in the world on it [Contador - ed.]."
Armstrong's return causes somewhat of a management problem for the team now that it has two past Tour de France winners. Contador is the only active rider to claim victories in all three of the sport's Grand Tours and Armstrong holds the record for the most wins in the Tour de France.
"So my return, although it made a lot of sense to me and to Johan because of our loyalty to each other, was a little surprising to a great rider like Contador, who didn't expect to be in this position. It's going to require some discussion and some balance. But I'm committed to riding and following the rules of cycling and supporting the strongest rider."
The duo will not race together until the Tour de France. The Spaniard's will start his season slower than Armstrong because his main objective is the Tour in July.
Armstrong starts his season this month in Australia at the Tour Down Under, January 18 to 25. He will race the three-week Italian stage race, Giro d'Italia, for the first time in May.
Cyclingnews'complete coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback.