NEW YORK Lance Armstrong won his first seven Tour de France titles with Johan Bruyneel as his team director. No way would he try for No. 8 without him.
Armstrong will ride for Bruyneel's Astana team as he seeks to win the 2009 Tour, the Kazakh Cycling Federation said Wednesday. Federation deputy chief Nikolai Proskurin told The Associated Press that Armstrong agreed to ride for the Kazakhstan-based team for free the first year and has signed up to take part in five races, including the Tour de France.
Armstrong was set to detail his comeback later Wednesday at a news conference during the Clinton Global Initiative. Earlier, in a speech to an audience full of political and corporate leaders, he announced that his foundation was committing $8 million over five years to expand its fight against cancer from the U.S. to underserved parts of the world such as Africa and South America.
"For us as Americans, for us as an international community, if we are not supplying the medicine we have to the people who need it the most, we are failing morally and ethically," Armstrong said.
The 37-year-old Armstrong's first race will be the Tour of California from Feb. 14-22, Proskurin said. But Australian officials announced earlier that Armstrong would ride in the Tour Down Under from Jan. 20-25. The race in Adelaide, Australia, is the first event on the 2009 world pro cycling calendar.
What the rest of the Astana team will look like is unclear. Alberto Contador, the 2007 Tour de France champ, might already be looking for a new team.
"I think I've earned the right to be the leader of a team without having to fight for my place," the Spanish rider said Tuesday in AS newspaper. "And with Armstrong some difficult situations could arise in which the team would put him first and that would hurt me."
Contador, signed with Astana through 2010, said he had received several good offers from other teams. The Spaniard won the Spanish Vuelta on Sunday. Combined with his 2008 Giro d'Italia title, he became just the fifth cyclist to win the three highest-regarded Tours.
Another Astana rider, American Levi Leipheimer, had no interest in discussing Armstrong after his former teammate with U.S. Postal Service announced his comeback earlier this month.
There is already tension between Leipheimer and Contador. Contador said he got no help from Leipheimer in his Vuelta victory.
There also are no guarantees Astana will race the 2009 Tour. Race officials kept the team from competing this year because of a series of previous doping violations, and Contador was unable to defend his championship.
Armstrong spoke at the opening plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative, a four-day annual meeting held by the foundation of former President Bill Clinton. His remarks preceded a panel that included Clinton, Queen Rania al-Abdullah of Jordan, U2 lead singer Bono, former Vice President Al Gore, Coca-Cola chairman Neville Isdell and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Armstrong has dedicated his return to cycling to raising awareness about the fight against cancer. He plans to hold a summit of world leaders in Paris after the Tour.
"I cannot guarantee any tour victory, but I can guarantee the Livestrong message will touch all aspects of our society," Armstrong said.