American returns to Italian classic for ninth time
Lance Armstrong will be part of the 200-rider peloton competing in Saturday's Milan-San Remo, race organizer RCS Sport announced today. The 38-year-old Texan confirmed to RCS Sport director Angelo Zomegnan Sunday evening that he would be part of Team RadioShack's roster for the 101st edition of the Italian classic.
It will be the second start in as many years for Armstrong, who finished in 125th in 2009. Armstrong also rode the Giro d'Italia, another RCS Sport event, for the first time in his career last year as preparation for his return to the Tour de France.
Relations cooled between Armstrong and Zomegnan following the 2009 Giro's ninth stage in Milan where the peloton neutralised the stage in protest of what they claimed to be a dangerous circuit. Several riders acknowledged that the American was behind the move and Zomegnan expressed his anger at "older riders" for leading the protest, but Zomegnan stopped short of naming Armstrong specifically. Armstrong maintained a media boycott throughout the rest of the Giro d'Italia.
Armstrong will be making his ninth Milan-San Remo appearance, with his best result being an 11th place finish in 1996 before being diagnosed with cancer and subsequent comeback as a stage racer. This year, however, the seven-time Tour winner will skip the Giro d'Italia in favour of the Tour of California which for the first time runs concurrently with the Italian Grand Tour after a date change from February to May.
Milan-San Remo will be Armstrong's second European race of the season having already made his continental debut earlier this month in Spain's Tour of Murcia where he finished seventh overall. Armstrong recently spent a week in South Africa with teammate Daryl Impey culminating with the pair competing in the Cape Argus ride on March 14.
Armstrong will be joined by teammates Daryl Impey, Markel Irizar Aranburu, Geoffroy Lequatre, Dmitriy Muravyev, Grégory Rast and Sébastien Rosseler at Milan-San Remo. A replacement will be named for Gert Steegmans, also slated to start, since the 29-year-old Belgian is recovering from a broken collarbone suffered during the Paris-Nice prologue.
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