SILVER CITY, NM (BRAIN)—Lance Armstrong will be racing at New Mexico's Tour of the Gila road race, which kicks off today.
The seven-time Tour de France winner was initially barred from the five-day event because of an International Cycling Union (UCI) rule that prevents top professional teams such as Astana from sending organized squads to national-level races. But there is a stipulation that allows for "members" of a professional team to compete in these type of events, hence Astana will be sending three riders—Armstrong, Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner—all of whom have been training together at Armstrong's high altitude training grounds in Aspen, Colorado.
"Were very excited that Lance, Levi and Chris were allowed to race," said David Zimberoff, global marketing director of SRAM, to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. "The compromise reached by the UCI and USA cycling should benefit the whole cycling community in the future. With BMC also being allowed the same consideration, it is certinaly going to make this year's Gila the best ever.
"As the title sponsor of the event, were very proud of the field that is here. The support of the town, state and community have all been overwhelmingly positive. It's going to be an amazing race," he added.
Armstrong also plans to make his first appearance in the Giro d'Italia next month. His plans also include the Tour de France, but French authorities could possibly ban him because of a disagreement involving a recent drug test in March.