Armstrong returns pro cycling to Colorado

DENVER — Lance Armstrong took to the streets of downtown Denver today with Gov. Bill Ritter and hundreds of citizen cyclists to celebrate the realization of his dream of bringing a major international pro-cycling stage race to Colorado next year.

It was a welcome respite for Armstrong, who is under scrutiny from federal investigators looking into cheating in professional cycling following claims by former teammate Floyd Landis that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

The exact route of the Aug. 22-28, 2011, race, called the Quiznos Pro Challenge, has not been mapped out yet, but it will include a mix of mountain, sprint and downtown stages like the old Coors Classic, which ended in 1988, Armstrong told The Associated Press in advance of the announcement on the steps of the state capitol.

Fresh off his second retirement from the Tour de France, which he won a record seven times, Armstrong said he hopes to ride in the Quiznos Pro Challenge himself, but he wasn’t making any promises.

“I’m thinking about it,” he told the crowd. “My days of top-level professional European cycling are certainly done. That’s not to say that I can’t do some events here in the U.S. or even internationally that are tied in closely to the things that I care about: fighting cancer, promoting cycling, promoting the young generation of cyclists.”

Armstrong said he just doesn’t know if it’s smart to compete against cyclists who will be coming off the Tour de France in tiptop shape.

“So, three weeks later, do I, not having done the Tour and not having trained like them, want to jump in?” Armstrong asked. “It’s not that easy to just jump in with them for a week. So, would I like to? Yes. Would I be fit enough? Probably not. But we’ll see. Never say never.”

Absent from the race announcement was any mention of the probe by federal investigators in Los Angeles spurred by accusations from Landis in a series of e-mails sent to cycling and doping officials this spring in which he said the use of banned substances was common on the US Postal team.



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