Cycling legend Lance Armstrong could return to Australia for the 2010 Tour Down Under, the race’s director said on Friday, after his appearance this year drew the biggest crowds in its history.
The seven-time Tour de France winner made his much-anticipated professional cycling comeback in this year’s race after a three-and-a-half year hiatus from the sport. He came in 29th overall.
Race director Mike Turtur said the key factors in the Texan’s return to the race in Adelaide next January were expected to be his performance in the Tour de France, which starts on Saturday, and the formation of a new team for 2010.
Turtur said race officials continued to negotiate with Armstrong’s management and to watch developments regarding new teams.
“We continue to negotiate with his management and they’re keen and interested,” he said.
He said he expected most issues to sorted out before the end of the year.
Turtur declined to comment on what Armstrong was paid to race in this year’s Tour Down Under nor what organisers might have to pay for his return.
But he said the South Australian state government was prepared to pay any price to get Armstrong back to Adelaide.
Government officials said the 2009 Tour Down Under was the biggest in the event’s 10-year history, attracting 750,000 spectators. South Australia also received an economic boost of 39 million dollars (31 million US).
Next year’s Tour Down Under will be staged from January 17-24.