Cycling: Bruyneel 'keen to be a part of Armstrong' bid

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The Independent Online

Johan Bruyneel, the Astana team leader, is looking forward to reuniting with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Bruyneel said yesterday he had already begun discussions with Armstrong, who is coming out of his three-year retirement to try to win an eighth Tour title next year.

"He won't have a problem finding a team. But the relationship we have means I can't allow him to go to another team. For me it would be nice to be a part of this," Bruyneel said. Although Bruyneel said sponsors and Astana directors must still give their approval, it sounds as if Armstrong is headed for a reunion with his former coach.

Tour de France organisers also said yesterday they would accept Armstrong in the race. Christian Prudhomme, the race director, said Armstrong and his team will have to follow all the drug-testing rules "that are much more strict than they were before".

"If Lance Armstrong is at the start of the Tour de France, it will be the same thing for him and for his team, of course," he said. "There won't be any exceptions."

Prudhomme noted the doping speculation that dogged Armstrong when he was at the top of his sport. "Suspicion has followed Lance Armstrong since 1999, everyone knows that," he said. Armstrong never tested positive and has always maintained he was clean, having passed hundreds of drug tests.

Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen won the fourth stage of the Tour of Britain in dramatic fashion in Stoke yesterday. The Team Columbia rider pipped Giairo Ermeti at the line despite trailing going into the uphill finish. Agritubel's Geoffroy Lequarte claimed the yellow jersey, taking advantage of team-mate Emilien Berges's puncture. Great Britain's Steve Cummings moved up to second overall, Ben Swift took over in the King of the Mountains and Roger Hammond leads the points competition.

Briton Mark Cavendish sprinted to his second straight stage win and extended his lead in the Tour of Missouri late on Tuesday. Cavendish collected his 16th victory of the season by about a bike-length in the 203.3km Clinton to Springfield road race, clocking a time of 4hr 53min and 19sec.