Cycling: Armstrong considers eighth Tour

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The Independent Online

"I'm thinking about it." the 33-year-old said. "I'm thinking it's the best way to piss the French off."

Armstrong - who has fiercely denied L'Equipe's allegations, calling them a "witch-hunt" - has said he has been contemplating a return to the Tour for the last two weeks - since the French newspaper ran a four-page story accusing Armstrong.

The news of a potential comeback follows the American's announcement that he is getting engaged to his rock star partner Sheryl Crow, with plans for a wedding next year.

While Armstrong's marital plans are not being questioned, so far his ideas about the summer of 2006 are being treated with caution. Jan Ullrich, his most persistent rival for Tour victory, was not available for comment, and a spokesman for his team, T-Mobile, said "We don't discuss something that is pure speculation. And getting Jan to talk about this would be very difficult."

His team manager, Johan Bruyneel, said: "It's not impossible. The first objective is to be at the team's first training camp in early December. He's training again." Asked if it would be to race in the Tour de France, Bruyneel said: "It's too soon to talk about that but that's always been his race."

The story does has a real ring of truth about it. Ever since his comeback from cancer, Armstrong has always motivated himself by wanting to prove those doubting his ability, for whatever reason, wrong.

Armstrong will also take part in a nine-day charity bike ride this month and is still under contract to Discovery Channel.

l Spain's Unai Yus, who failed to start Monday's 10th stage of the Tour of Spain, has been suspended after substances not on the team's official medicine list were found in his room by his team doctor.

Alasdair Fotheringham writes for Cycling Weekly

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