By Gregor Brown
Lance Armstrong's announcement yesterday that he would race the Giro d'Italia came as a welcome sign for race director Angelo Zomegnan. The three-week race is largely considered an Italian affair, but the seven-time Tour de France winner's presence will change the Giro's global appeal.
"It is another step ahead in the internationalisation of the Giro d'Italia and gives further value to the Giro," said Italy's Zomegnan to Cyclingnews.
Race organiser RCS Sport announced Armstrong's decision to race in the 2009 event – May 9 to 31 – yesterday. There has been speculation that the American, 37, would include the Giro d'Italia in his programme since he stated he would come back to racing last month. In his career, which includes winning the Tour de France seven times in a row, he never raced Italy's Grand Tour.
"He has stopped for three years; we don't know how he will go. He is a rider that if he puts himself to an objective it is because he has a certain feeling that he can return at a good level and be a protagonist."
Past champions of the Tour de France also won the Giro d'Italia. Five-time Tour winners Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain all won at least one edition of the Italian tour.
Armstrong's presence will add an extra reason for the Giro d'Italia to celebrate in 2009. The 92nd edition will mark 100 years since the race organisers held the first event in 1909.
"It is important for Armstrong because he likely had a regret that he never participated. He is the only one that can win the centenarian Giro after he won the centenarian Tour."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of Lance Armstrong's comeback
January 18, 2009 - Armstrong announces start of Catlin's drug testing programme
January 8, 2009 - Armstrong impresses Carmichael prior to Tour Down Under
January 7, 2009 - Armstrong believes Team Astana can dominate Tour
December 10, 2008 - Merckx: Armstrong's return good for cycling and Giro
December 8, 2008 - Armstrong climbs Teide
December 6, 2008 - Rast on life with Armstrong
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong considers Tour of Ireland
December 5, 2008 - Armstrong: Contador is the best
December 4, 2008 - Horner unites with Armstrong despite past differences
December 3, 2008 - Armstrong and Contador ride separate paths towards Tour
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong surfs with Astana
December 2, 2008 - Armstrong plans to race Tour
December 1, 2008 - Armstrong's anti-doping testing program pending
November 23, 2008 - Media out of love with Armstrong?
November 22, 2008 - Andreu caught up in Armstrong fight again
November 19, 2008 - Armstrong concerned about Tour safety
November 17, 2008 - Armstrong to meet with ASO
November 9, 2008 - Armstrong racing in Texas again
November 7, 2008 - Exclusive Armstrong wind tunnel video
November 7, 2008 - Lance Armstrong speaks at Web 2.0 conference
November 6, 2008 - Carmichael dials in Armstrong's comeback training
November 5, 2008 - Armstrong looking for balance
November 5, 2008 - Photos from Armstrong's wind tunnel test
November 3, 2008 - Armstrong doubles up and heads to wind tunnel