Armstrong Says Bruyneel to Join New Team, Landis a Possibility

Armstrong Says Bruyneel to Join New Team, Landis a Possibility

By Fergal O’Brien

Lance Armstrong said Johan Bruyneel, who oversaw his seven Tour de France wins with the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery teams, will join his new RadioShack Corp.- sponsored cycling squad next year.

“Bruyneel is a master at acquiring guys and building the best teams,” Armstrong, 37, said in an interview in Dublin, where he is attending a cancer summit hosted by his Livestrong foundation. “He’ll be there.”

Bruyneel, a Belgian, recorded his ninth triumph in the Tour this year by managing Astana’s Alberto Contador to his second victory. Armstrong, also on Astana, finished third in a comeback from a 3 1/2-year retirement.

Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens said Bruyneel is under contract with the Kazakhstan-backed team through the end of 2010.

“His release has got to be negotiated,” Maertens said in a telephone interview. “It’s not clear how long this will take. It could be a few days, a week or longer.”

Lance Armstrong refused to rule out inviting former U.S. Postal teammate Floyd Landis to the new team. Landis won the 2006 Tour de France, then lost the title for doping.

Armstrong said he hadn’t actively considered Landis, who underwent hip-replacement surgery after being suspended for doping during the 2006 Tour.

“I wouldn’t rule anything out,” Armstrong said. “He’s a great rider, a tremendous story.”

Landis was Armstrong’s teammate for three of his Tour wins. His attorney, Maurice Suh, didn’t immediately return a telephone message. E-mails and phone messages to Landis’s current outfit, Temecula, California-based Ouch Pro Cycling Team, weren’t immediately returned.

Potential Teammates

Armstrong said he also was considering Andreas Kloden, Levi Leipheimer and Haimar Zubeldia, all on Astana this year, as potential RadioShack teammates. He said none of the riders were confirmed as members of the new team.

Fort Worth, Texas-based RadioShack, the second-largest U.S. electronics chain, and Armstrong announced their alliance in the final days of this year’s Tour.

The Astana team was torn during the Tour this year as Contador bested Armstrong and became the team leader during the race. In cycling, other members of the team work to improve the chances of the leader at the expense of their own.

Today, he said Contador is the best in the world “by far” and will be “tough to beat” in 2010.

Moving Past Scandals

Armstrong said that cycling may be moving past the drug scandals that tarnished the sport in recent years.

“We’re in the right direction,” Armstrong said. “It’s good for sport, good for the event. It’s good for all the things that come with that — the teams, the riders, the sponsorship, the public.”

Armstrong, who overcame cancer before winning his record tally of Tour titles, said he returned to professional cycling to raise awareness about the disease. In this year’s Tour, there were no positive drug tests after 11 doping cases in the previous editions.

“I don’t think that’s cause to stand up and say — you guys are great,” he said. “You’re still going to have people who do stupid things, foolish things.”

Lance Armstrong never has been cited for violating anti-drug rules. In December, he said he had “listened to the whispers” about himself for more than a decade.

Armstrong, who turns 38 next month, said he expects to be “stronger” next year.

“I should be a bit better than I was this year on the bike,” he said. “With a year under my belt, I’ll come back stronger.”

(Source: bloomberg.com)

Armstrong Says Bruyneel to Join New Team, Landis a Possibility