Lance Armstrong cleared to race in Australian Tour

October 9th, 2008 - 7:56 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 9 (DPA) US cyclist Lance Armstrong will make his official comeback to professional road racing in January at the Tour Down Under in Australia, organisers of the Adelaide stage race said Thursday.Cycling’s world body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), granted a dispensation from a drug-testing rule to allow the 37-year-old a return to cycling two weeks early.

UCI rules state that a rider must be in an anti-doping programme for six months before entering competition.

Armstrong announced his retirement in 2005 after winning a record seventh straight Tour de France but shocked the cycling world last month when he said he would try for an eighth triumph in the world’s most prestigious road race.

The Tour Down Under, the first stage race outside Europe to be accorded ProTour status, attracts some of the world’s top teams. The Jan 20-25 event opens the UCI ProTour season, and professional cyclists like the Tour Down Under because it’s a warm change from gruelling training in the Northern Hemisphere winter.

The six-day race, won this year by up-and-coming German rider Andre Greipel, circles the picturesque Barossa Valley wine-growing region.

It’s an unusual format in that each stage begins and ends in Adelaide.

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