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To speculate on Lance's return

Ah, what to make of Lance Armstrong's announcement that he will end his three years of retirement to attempt to win his eight Tour de France?

Part of me roots for Lance. Part of me seriously wonders what his motivations are.

For one, the French are not particularly pleased with the news. The Associated Press characterized Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme as "cool" on the idea of the American's return. Which in turn makes me want to see Lance kick some yellow jersey butt.

Then there is the possibility of being prompted merely to clean up his name and prove that he indeed did win his record-setting seven titles without performance enhancing drugs. Armstrong has vowed to participate in more stringent and public tests than are required by international cycling governing bodies. Still, that won't necessarily convince the doubters who feel he cheated the system during his Tour de France reign.

More to the point, what happens if Lance doesn't succeed at winning the Tour in 2009? Or worse yet, doesn't even get on the podium? He certainly is risking his reputation and could tarnish, instead of polish, his cycling achievements with a sub-par performance in 2009.

Then, there's the cycling political intrigue -- will he join the team Astana, run by his close friend Johan Bruyneel who guided all of Lance's Tour de France wins? If so, what happens to current team leader Alberto Contador, who won the 2007 Tour de France title?

If nothing else, it puts cycling back in the American sporting consciousness as only Lance can do.

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