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Astana denies Armstrong return

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong (Image credit: Rob O'Dea)

The rumoured return to racing of seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has been officially denied by the Astana team, which Armstrong was reported to be joining.

"He is not part of our team," press officer Philippe Maertens told the Associated Press. "Team Astana has no plans with him."

Astana team director Johan Bruyneel, who was with Armstrong for all seven Tour wins from 1999-2005, was unaware of any Armstrong comeback.

"I don't know where the rumours come from," he told Cyclingnews.

Maertens said rumours that Armstrong might come out of retirement had been circulating for a few weeks.

"I cannot tell you more, you better ask him," he said

"We know that Lance continued training hard after that mountain bike race," Maertens said. "He will do some cyclo-cross races as well in the USA."

At the time of publication, Cyclingnews has yet to receive a response to from Armstrong's manager, Mark Higgins.

Rumours began circulating of Armstrong's return to the professional ranks after he finished second to Dave Weins in the Leadville Trail 100 mile mountain bike race. The event is sanctioned by the USA cycling and Armstrong’s participation required him to be part of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's out-of-competition testing pool.

Should Armstrong return to elite level competition, he would be required to have been part of the testing pool for a minimum of six months prior to his return. The August date of Leadville places the Tour of California just outside the six month minimum period.

USA Cycling has confirmed Armstrong has not applied for an international cycling license, but chief operating officer Sean Petty said Armstrong typically did not request such a license until January or February.

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