MILAN, Italy — Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong plans to meet with Tour officials before deciding to compete in the 2009 race.
The Gazzetta dello Sport reported Sunday that Johan Bruyneel, Armstrong’s team director at Astana, said the pair had asked for a meeting.
“The decision will be made down the road, after having talked with the organizers. We have asked for a meeting,” Bruyneel told the Italian newspaper.
Armstrong announced his comeback from a three-year retirement in September and joined the Astana team. Bruyneel teamed with Armstrong for all seven Tour de France wins from 1999-2005.
Armstrong has feuded for years with Tour officials over drug-testing issues, but Tour director Christian Prudhomme has said the Astana team will be allowed to race next year. Astana was banned from this year’s Tour because of doping issues.
Prudhomme could not be reached to confirm the request for a meeting.
Previously, Armstrong had expressed doubts over whether he would try for another Tour title because of the problems he might encounter with French organizers, journalists and fans.
“I don’t expect everyone in France to be friendly, but there should at least be a serene atmosphere,” Bruyneel said. “Anyhow, Lance is accustomed to finding motivation out of anger and grudges.”
Armstrong is scheduled to race the Giro d’Italia for the first time. The 100th anniversary edition of the Giro is scheduled for May 9-31. The Tour de France starts July 4.
Armstrong is expected to begin his comeback at the Tour Down Under in Australia on Jan. 20-25, then ride the Tour of California.
He also will enter the Criterium International and Tour of Flanders classic, Bruyneel said.