By Gregor Brown
Lance Armstrong made his return to racing in Europe Saturday with the Milano-Sanremo. The American finished in the second group which crossed the line eight minutes back, in 125th.
"It was fast," he told Cyclingnews before rushing away.
Team Astana looked intent on leaving a mark on the day's race with a strong presence over the race's new climb of Le Mànie. Seven of its men led on the 4.7-kilometre climb that left 85 kilometres to race.
"What a race! Fast, crazy, but great," he said later on his Twitter page. "My legs felt good. [I had a] bad position at start of the Cipressa, so my day was done."
Armstrong faded back after the Cipressa and then on the Poggio. The highest place Astana rider was Assan Bazayev.
It was Armstrong's eighth participation in the race, having finished 11th in 1996 before being diagnosed with cancer and subsequent comeback as a stage racer. The seven-time Tour de France champion is now back from a three-year retirement and building for the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.
"Good to get in close to 190 miles on the bike too... Congrats to Cavendish on a spectacular victory. Cool kid," Armstrong added on the popular website.
Both Mark Cavendish and Heinrich Haussler, who finishined first and second respectively, are over a decade younger than Armstrong. The American raced his first Sanremo when Cavendish was seven years old.
Cavendish commented that he was not surprised he did better on the day's climbs than the former victor of such climbs as L'Alpe d'Huez but admitted he had trained specifically for the race.
Armstrong now travels to Spain for the Castilla y León, March 23 to 27. He will race for the fist time with teammate Alberto Contador in their preparations for July's Tour de France.
Armstrong's Sanremo palmarès:
22nd in 1993
99th in 1994 as World Champion
73rd in 1995
11th in 1996
118th in 1999
108th in 2000
44th in 2002
125th in 2009