Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Armstrong cleared to race in Gila, NM as Mellow Johnny's

Photos courtesy of www.livestrong.com.
April 29, 2009

Lance Armstrong will be cleared to race the five-day Tour de Gila in New Mexico, but he will be wearing a Mellow Johnny's jersey instead of team Astana's.

Seven-time Tour de France winner--we all know that already but I think it's now become his title, kind of like, King of France--Lance Armstrong will start the race today, Wednesday. The five day SRAM Tour of Gila, takes place near Silver City, NM. Armstrong is part owner with Bart Knaggs of Mellow Johnny's, a bike shop in Austin, TX.

Armstrong had 12 screws implanted in his collar bone after a crash last month. This likely will be a warm up race for the Giro d'Italia coming up in May, followed by the TDF in July.

Wrote a report from the NY Times: "Armstrong had been barred from the race because of an International Cycling Union rule prohibiting top-level professional cycling teams from competing in national-level events. "

After some negotiation with the sponsors of the event, officials from the cycling union and USA Cycling reinterpreted the rule Tuesday, allowing Armstrong and two of his Astana teammates — Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner — to race as individuals, and will wear the Mellow Johnny's bike jersey.

The Australian News reported that organizers of the Gila were furious with the initial negative ruling of the USA Cycling officials barring Armstrong from the race. The ruling bars international teams from racing in local national races. But the loophole allows three riders to ride neutrally if they are not wearing the team jersey of Astana.

"I'm excited to get back to competitive racing," said Armstrong, 37, who is competing for the first time since breaking his collarbone in Spain last month.

"The recovery training has been going well but nothing compares to getting back into the bunch and racing."

Stage one will take riders from Silver City to Mogollon, NM, and will include Men Pro, Sr. Men 2, Sr. Men 3, Men 35 plus, and Women Pro.

Other reports:
Los Angeles Times
The Guardian
The BBC
Silver City Sun News

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