By Daniel Benson, managing editor Cyclingnews and Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
Lance Armstrong announced Tuesday that he intends to not only come back to the sport which earned him fame and fortune, but that he will do so to win his eighth Tour de France. While he hasn't yet announced which team he will be a part of, speculation that he would join the Astana squad with his former director Johan Bruyneel has been rife, even if the team has officially denied the rumours.
Armstrong insists that his motive is to step up cancer awareness world wide, but made it clear that he is taking his return seriously. His would-be competitors have expressed disbelief, skepticism, and in some cases, overwhelming enthusiasm for the return of the seven-time Tour champion. Even critics of Armstrong cannot discount the fact that he's an incredibly strong presence, and will draw crowds and money into the sport.
Bob Stapleton – owner of Team Columbia
"I'm waiting to see what the facts and circumstances are. But the question for me is what is it all about? Is it about winning an 8th Tour, about progressing the sport, about something good to help the fight against cancer... but what's the greater mission? If this is just about a return to glory that would be disappointing for me.
"I don't know how you can go back and rewrite the history. He is a true American hero, there is no doubt about that. And he could come back and win, I would never underestimate him. Personally the story so far doesn't do it for me. But maybe it is about something bigger. He is passionate about cancer and probably concerned about the situation of the sport.
"I think Lance is going to pick and hire the team he wants – not the other way around! Being anything other than Johan or Astana is very unlikely. It doesn't make any sense otherwise. It is much easier to go back and put together what he had.
Jonathan Vaughters – Former teammate of Lance Armstrong at US Postal and now Manager of the Garmin-Chipotle team.
"I'm not surprised to be honest. I mean he's always been keeping fit and in shape. You could see that from the results he's had recently. If anything I'm just curious as to how he'll do and what level he can come back to. That's the big question for me. Assuming he rides, I don't think anyone can say how he'll get on in the Tour next year. There will be barometers along the way with the smaller races that he'll ride like Paris - Nice and the Dauphiné but one thing I'd bet on is that he certainly won't suck during the Tour.
"There was a rumour that I was going to come back to the sport and race a while ago but if I wanted to come back I'd have to cut my wine intake by around 98 per cent. I'm happy not coming back."
Tom Danielson – former teammate at Discovery
"This is such good news for the sport and especially for cycling in the US. I rode the Tour of California and the Tour of Georgia with Lance in 2005 and the crowds that guy brings in are just incredible. So if he comes back and races Georgia and California again then it will be fantastic. It's going to inspire so many people out there to get into the sport of cycling for the first time and to get back out on their bike like he has.
"Lance never did anything half-assed so if he's going to come back you can bet that he's going to aim for the very top. When I was racing with him he was just awesome. Still, the guy has nothing to prove, especially in my eyes. I don't think there will be any problem with Contador and Armstrong on the same team. Those guys at Astana are just so professional, so I'm sure that they'll settle everything. If anything if could just make them even stronger, with Lance, Contador and Levi all able to go for the overall.
George Hincapie – Long time teammate on US Postal/Discovery Channel and friend of Armstrong
"If coming back to racing is something Lance wanted to do than it is something I would of course embrace. He's done so much for this sport and there are so many teams here that wouldn't even be here with out him. I think everyone should embrace the idea of him coming back. He's done so much for us and if he wants to come back I think that it's a good thing."
"I think anything Lance does is going to attract a lot of attention from media. But I think that is a normal reaction on the part of the media regarding rumours of his comeback."
Mark Cavendish – Team Columbia
"I hardly ever get star struck but I think if I saw Lance back in the bunch it may be one of the few times that I would be. I think having him back is big news for the older guys on the team. But, for me, I've never had the opportunity to race with Lance and I have no idea how good it would be to race with him. Obviously for some one like me, I was growing up in my cycling career just as he was starting to win the Tour de France. So yes, it is quite a special thing. I know that some of the other guys like George Hincapie are very excited about this.
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