Lance thinks it's possible
Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong says his Astana team has a chance at a podium sweep in this year's Tour de France, and he might ride on in 2010.
Armstrong, who won the Tour de France from 1999-2005, told website The Daily Beast any one of five riders on the team could be in position to win the 2009 title.
"We have five riders that have been in the top five in the tour," Armstrong told the website. "Theoretically any of them could be very close (to winning).
"And I think more realistically than theoretically, you could perhaps put three guys on the podium if you did it right. (It would) be exciting for us. Not exciting for the race. But exciting for us."
Armstrong's other top-five Tour teammates include 2007 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, whom Armstrong called "the best stage racer in the world", plus US compatriot Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Kloden and Haimar Zebeldia.
Armstrong said he is ready to play a support role on the superstar squad if Astana manager Johan Bruyneel asks.
"My return, although it made a lot of sense to me and to Johan because of our loyalty to each other, was a little surprising to a great rider like Contador who didn't expect to be in this position. It's going to require some discussion and some balance," Armstrong said.
"But I'm committed to riding and following the rules of cycling and supporting the strongest rider. Whoever Johan thinks that is. I'll follow team orders."
Armstrong said he can see his comeback extending into 2010.
"I don't want to limit it," he said. "It would be a little irrational to announce or even think about it now, because I haven't even started to racing this year yet. But it has entered my mind.
"I'm having fun right now and feeling strong and healthy. I certainly don't want to limit it to one year. But it could be one. It could be two."
Armstrong, who has run in marathons, hinted at a future in triathlon - which he starred in prior to taking up cycling - once his racing days are over.
He even spoke in general terms about a future in politics to the website's interviewer, who said he was a member of the board of Armstrong's foundation and spoke to the cycling star in Hawaii ahead of a ride in the Tour Down Under.
"If you feel like you can do the job better than people who are doing it now and you can really make a difference, then that's a real calling to serve and I think you have to do that," Armstrong said.
" ... Don't do it for a bet, or a dare or for your ego.
"Do it because you can get in there and change people's lives. That's why you do it. So there will come a time, or not, that I say to myself, 'You know what? I can help affect change'. And if that day comes, then absolutely."