Lance Armstrong returns to cycling with win at Sprint 56k Criterium
The U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team's Lance Armstrong, in the midst of a comeback following successful treatments for cancer, will race in Sunday's Outdoor Life Network Grand Prix in Atlanta.
Following nearly 10 days of intense training in the hills of North Carolina, Armstrong's decision to take part in the 119-mile race through Atlanta's midtown and Piedmont Park, the third of eight races comprising the Tour of America series, came unexpectedly yesterday.
"After spending the past nine days training harder than ever," Armstrong said, "I have decided to race the Outdoor Life Network Grand Prix. My motivation is very high right now and I hope to be competitive. We have a very strong team in the race and hope to make it back-to-back victories."
The U.S. Postal Service's Marty Jemison won last year's event.
Armstrong began his comeback in Europe in February and placed 14th overall at the Ruta del Sol stage race in Spain. Armstrong returned to the United States in early March in order to refocus his plans for the season, which include competing in the Sprint 56K Criterium in his hometown of Austin, TX, on May 22, and participating in the Ride for the Roses on May 23, the signature event of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Armstrong plans to compete in the U.S. Pro Championship in Philadelphia on June 7 and intends to return to Europe for the Tour of Luxembourg and the Tour of Catalunya in Spain.
Armstrong will join six U.S. Postal Service teammates in Atlanta for the Outdoor Life Network Grand Prix - Jemison, Frankie Andreu, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters and Anton Villatoro.
Comeback In May of 1998 Lance celebrated his victory over cancer and his "official" return to U.S. cycling by winning under the lights in dramatic fashion the Sprint 56K Criterium along the streets of downtown Austin. The race was just one part of the Ride for the Roses, a weekend of cycling and celebration in Austin, Texas benefiting Lance's Foundation. The month was not only memorable in a professional sense, but personally as well - he had recently become engaged to Kristin Richard. Their year long romance, which first began at the 1997 Ride for the Roses, culminated in a beautiful ceremony with family and close friends in Santa Barbara, California on May 8.
Though Lance's win in the Sprint 56K Criterium marked an important milestone in his comeback to the sport, many were still skeptical of his ability to return to professional cycling at the top European level; key among them was his new team Cofidis - they terminated his contract soon after the news of his illness. Within months, however, Lance proudly announced a new affiliation with the United States Postal Service pro cycling team with whom he rides today. Their faith in him strengthened his resolve to live up to his own and his team's expectations and resume his position as one of the world's top cyclists. But before he would once again resume the mantle of "Boss" within the pro peloton, he would have to overcome one more hurdle.
In 1998, Armstrong celebrated his victory over cancer by winning the Sprint 56K Criterium in Austin, Texas. Since then, Armstrong has turned the world of cycling upside-down.