As was revealed at a press conference last Thursday, Lance Armstrong will come out of retirement to ride for the Trek-sponsored Astana team. [Trivia note: BikeBiz played a small part in the kerfuffle caused by Greg Lemond at this press conference, the BikeBiz editor jumped out of the front seat, and Lemond jumped in, allowing him to ask the first, awkward questions.]
Armstrong – pictured here at CrossVegas – will reunite with his old team manager Johan Bruyneel. A statement from Trek said: "As a Trek-athlete for life, Armstrong’s return to professional racing opens another important and exciting chapter in Trek’s history."
Armstrong owns a small fraction of Trek. He has been a Trek-sponsored athlete since 1998.
Trek’s Director of Marketing, Dean Gore, said:
"Lance is a great champion and a wonderful ambassador for cycling, cancer survivors, and for Trek. He’s an important part of the Trek family and we are of course delighted to see him return to the sport that he loves — the sport that we love. We look forward to helping fuel his success, both on the bike and with his Global Cancer Initiative.
"We share his passion to cure cancer in our lifetime, having partnered with the MACC Fund for the past 19 years to hold the annual Trek 100, which has contributed more than $7.2 million to childhood cancer research. Lance’s values dovetail perfectly with Trek’s."
Armstrong’s return also marks the first time he’ll race aboard Trek’s new Madone platform, a bike which Lance has ridden for the past two years, but never raced, and a bike that has been ridden to three Grand Tour victories, including the 2007 Tour de France. He’ll also have an opportunity to race aboard Trek’s latest Equinox TTX. The prototype TTX Lance raced in the 2005 TdF has evolved considerably.
"For nearly a decade Lance has played an important role in Trek’s product development," said Trek’s Road Bike Brand Manager and former team liaison Scott Daubert.
"Keeping Lance ahead of the competition during his seven Tour championships pushed us to innovate and perform at the absolute highest level. We look forward to resuming that fruitful relationship. The new Madone and Equinox TTX bikes are the best bikes in the pro peloton and we’re confident they’ll give Lance the competitive edge he needs. But we in no way intend to rest on our laurels. We look forward to collaborating with Lance and the rest of the Astana team to develop exciting new products."
Astana is also sponsored by SRAM and so the team bikes are equipped with Red gruppos. To date, Armstrong has been equipped with Shimano. Astana is sponsored by Giro so there will be no need to switch helmet brands.
Astana riders have individual shoe and sunglasses sponsorship deals, so Armstrong will remain with Nike and Oakley.
Another brand cock-a-hoop with its sponsored rider is Boardman Bikes, supplier to the Halfords Bikehut team. The star rider for this team is Nicole Cooke. At the weekend she added the world champion’s hoops to her Olympic gold medal.
The Halfords Bikehut rider was part of a decisive five-rider split which got away on the final lap of the 138km race. Cooke’s triumph came just six weeks after winning the Olympic road-race, making her the first woman in the history of cycling to take both titles in the same year.
Her Halfords Bikehut team-mate Lizzie Armitstead was instrumental in setting up the Welsh rider for victory.
Armitstead provided a GB presence in an early break that went clear on the first lap, and still found the energy as they were caught at the start of the final lap to launch Cooke into the decisive break.
GB Performance Director Dave Brailsford was impressed with his rider’s performances.
"It was just masterful riding in the best women’s road race I have ever watched," he said.
"Nicole was so mature and totally in control."
Cooke’s victories in Beijing and Varese are testament to the Halfords Bikehut pro-nat team concept launched at the begining of this year, said a statement from the team.
The creation of the pro-nat squad allowed Cooke to focus on the Olympics and World Championships rather than the intense race programmes usually followed by trade teams keen to keep sponsors profiles high throughout the whole season.
"Halfords’ goals are the same as mine, success at the Olympics and Worlds," Cooke remarked earlier in the season.
It also allowed her to race with the same team mates throughout the year, rather than coming together only for one or two key races, as was the tradition for national squads.