- Lance Armstrong, (R) the 1993 world cycling champion from the US, cycles to win during the Fleche Wallone cycling classic from Spa to Huy 17 April. Armstrong is followed by France's Denis Rous. ELECTRONIC IMAGE AFP PHOTO/Pascal PAVINI
- Us Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) rides during the 89th Tour of Flanders cycling race between Brugge and Meerbecke, 03 April 2005. Belgian Tom Boonen (Quick Step) won ahead of Germany's Andreas Klier (T-Mobile) and Belgian Peter van Petegem (Davitamon Lotto). AFP PHOTO FRANCK FIFE
Lance Armstrong will be back in the spring classics this year in a big way.
RadioShack sport director Johan Bruyneel told Biciciclismo that Armstrong will race Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
Armstrong was a consistent classics performer before being stricken with cancer in 1996, twice finishing second at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and becoming the first American to win Flèche Wallonne.
- Vuelta a Murcia, March 3-7
- Milan-San Remo, March 20
- Criterium International, March 27-28
- Tour of Flanders, April 4
- Amstel Gold Race, April 18
- Liège-Bastogne-Liège, April 25
- Tour of California, May 16-23
- Dauphiné Libéré or Tour de Suisse, June
- Tour de France, July 3-25
Following his dramatic return in 1998, Armstrong largely steered clear of the spring classics as his focus shifted to the Tour de France. He finished second in the Dutch classic Amstel Gold Race in 1999 and again in 2001 and participated in Milan-San Remo.
Bruyneel’s comments confirmed rumors that Armstrong was poised to race both Flanders and Liège.
Following his debut at the Tour Down Under, Armstrong will make his European season opener in early March at the five-day Vuelta a Murcia in Spain, a race that was a popular Armstrong stop during his Tour heyday.
He’ll also race the Criterium International in Corsica in late March after what’s expected to be a shot at Milan-San Remo, with nearly 300km of racing to help hone his fitness as he enters the northern classics.
His appearance at the Tour of Flanders in early April should draw huge crowds as well as give Armstrong a shot at riding some cobblestones ahead of this year’s Tour route, which includes one stage across Belgium with some pavé.
A dramatic return to Amstel Gold Race and then Liège will cap a busy spring campaign in Europe before the seven-time Tour champ returns to the United States to race in the Tour of California in its new date in May.
Bruyneel said they still haven’t decided whether Armstrong will race the Dauphiné Libéré or the Tour de Suisse in June as final preparation before the Tour.