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Armstrong races with Contador for first time this month

SEVEN-TIMES Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong is set to race for the first time with team mate and rival Alberto Contador of Spain when he takes part in this month's Tour of Castilla y Leon.

Armstrong's participation in the Spanish race means, however, that the American will miss the Criterium International on March 28-29 and therefore will not race in France before the Tour in July.

"The Astana Cycling team has confirmed that Lance Armstrong will return to Europe to continue his comeback season with races at Milan-Sanremo and the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon," his Astana team said in a statement yesterday.

Contador, who won the 2007 Tour and last year's Giro and Vuelta, and Armstrong, who is back from a 3-1/2-year retirement, were not supposed to race together before the Tour de France in July.

Last month, the Spaniard asked to race with Armstrong before the Tour in order to "test the team's unity".

Armstrong's participation in the Milan-San Remo on March 21 and the Tour of Castilla y Leon from March 23-27 means that his European schedule has changed.

"At the conclusion of the Vuelta a Castilla y Le? Armstrong will return to Austin, Texas, to resume training in the States," said Astana.

"Due to this training he will not compete in the Criterium International or the Tour of Flanders.

"It is yet to be decided which races Armstrong will participate in prior to the Giro d'Italia." The Giro starts on May 9.


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