Armstrong to lead strong Astana in Ireland

USA's Lance Armstrong (Astana)

USA's Lance Armstrong (Astana) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The Astana team has announced a strong seven-man team for next week's Tour of Ireland. Lance Armstrong will captain the squad in the Irish tour as he winds down a worldwide program of racing he has undertaken this year.

Yaroslav Popovych and Haimar Zubeldia will both race when the Tour of Ireland begins on Friday in Enniskerry. Alongside Armstrong, both Popovych and Zubeldia were members of Astana's victorious Tour de France team last month.

Slovenian national time trial champion Janez Brajkovic has also been named alongside another talented time trial rider, Swiss rider Michael Schär. Spaniards Jose Luis Rubiera and Jesús Hernádez complete the team.

Armstrong demonstrated at the Leadville 100 mountain bike race in Colorado on Saturday that he is in good form after finishing third overall at last month's Tour de France. His win by 25 minutes in the 100 mile race came despite a flat tyre and he will be expected to perform well in the three-stage Tour of Ireland.

It will be the first Tour of Ireland participation for both Astana and all of the riders named in the squad. The tour is also expected to be Armstrong's last major race for Astana as he prepares to return next year with Team RadioShack.

Astana's full line up for the Tour of Ireland is: Lance Armstrong (USA), Janez Brajkovic (Slo), Jesús Hernández (Spa), Michael Schär (Swi), Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr), Jose Luis Rubiera (Spa) and Haimar Zubeldia (Spa).

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