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ARD not looking forward to Armstrong return

German television network ARD has reacted cooly to the news of Lance Armstrong's comeback. After Armstrong announced his intention to try for an eighth Tour de France win, spokesman for ARD's Tour team, Rolf-Dieter Ganz said, "For us Armstrong is part of history; we don't want to see that [era] again."

"The future belongs to the young riders," Ganz said. "It certainly doesn't lie in the return of the Armstrong generation, which we hoped to move on from."

ARD has just postponed negotiations with Tour organiser ASO over its future coverage of the Tour de France. The details of any deal will be more affected by the value ARD sees in the rights for an event that has dropped in value after the scandals of 2006 and 2007 than by Armstrong's return.

But Ganz said, "If we agree to the contract we will sit at the table with Tour director Christian Prudhomme and make it clear: We are not amused with Armstrong's plans."

Allegations published in French newspaper L'Equipe that Armstrong used EPO in the 1999 Tour de France have sullied Armstrong's image in the eyes of the German broadcaster.

"The return of Armstrong is obviously not a credible action in the struggle for a future without doping," said Ganz. He explained that ASO is keen to have the commitment of German television due to the historically strong support of German riders at the Tour by the public back home. "Our word has weight. For the French, the German market is more important than many others," he added.

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