The word is out: Lance Armstrong will ride again.
Armstrong announced last week that he would participate in the 2009 Amgen Tour of California, riding for the Kazakhstan-based Astana team.
“The level of competition, the challenge of the course and the highly professional atmosphere make it the ideal situation for me to continue my training,” he said in a press release this week.
Armstrong, who retired from the competitive professional cycling world three years ago, said he is choosing to participate in the Tour of California because of the race’s record of supporting cancer awareness and research.
The news is especially good for the city of Davis, which will be hosting the start of the second stage of the race on Feb. 15 of 2009.
“This is obviously very exciting for us,” said Davis public relations manager Bob Bowen. “It’s going to generate a lot more attention.“
Bowen said spectators will be able to see the racers warming up and signing in prior to the start of the race.
“This will be fantastic for the sport of cycling in America and fantastic for the cancer cause in the U.S. and around the world,” said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, the company that holds the race.
“It’s a whole new world in terms of who’s paying attention to our race,” he said. “We had 1.6 million attendees last year. We’re going to have more. We’re going to have a lot more.“
The 2009 Tour of California will be longer than previous races, but Messick said he was not ready to announce exactly how much longer.
“It will probably be 80 to 90 miles longer than last year,” he said.
The second stage of the nine-stage tour will begin in Davis and take the riders through the town of Winters on the way to Santa Rosa. The race itself will begin in Sacramento and go through 16 cities before ending at Palomar Mountain in San Diego.
The announcement of Armstrong’s participation in the race is just the latest in a series of good bicycling news the city has received. Earlier this summer, it was announced that Davis would be the host of the start of the second stage of the race in February. In November of this year, Davis will play host to the first induction ceremony of the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame ever to be held west of the Mississippi.
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at email@example.com. RICHARD PROCTER contributed to this article.