But not just any American. And not just any French bicycle race. Confirmation that Lance Armstrong would ride the 2005 Tour de France - a subject for speculation for months - was carried on the Discovery Channel team website Wednesday morning. This will be a huge relief to those US holiday companies which specialise in taking clients to the Tour de France. Bookings have been lower than normal, they will now recover overnight...

American to ride French bicycle race

Here’s the official release:

After much speculation, the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team’s Lance Armstrong today announced his initial 2005 racing schedule, one that will include this summer’s Tour de France where he will go for a seventh straight victory. In 2004, Armstrong made history by becoming the first cyclist to win six Tours de France with a dominating performance, winning five individual stages.

"I am grateful for the opportunity that Discovery Communications has given the team and look forward to achieving my goal of a seventh Tour de France (victory)," said Armstrong.

Also on Armstrong’s racing schedule is one of America’s premier races — April’s Tour de Georgia, an event Armstrong won in 2004. Armstrong will kick off his season early next month at Paris-Nice, a seven day stage race and the first event of the newly formed Pro Tour, the sport’s top level racing series.

"I am excited to get back on the bike and start racing although my condition is far from perfect," said Armstrong.

Following Paris-Nice, Armstrong will take part in the 89th edition of the Tour of Flanders, one of Europe’s most prestigious Spring Classics, on April 3. Armstrong last raced in the Tour of Flanders in 2002, finishing 59th in support of his team’s leader. Armstrong will then return to the U.S. and defend his title at the Tour de Georgia, scheduled for April 19-25.

"Johan (Bruyneel, the team’s sports manager) and I will evaluate my fitness later this spring and possibly add some races to the calendar," said Armstrong.

All of the event’s Armstrong will participate in will be aired on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN). Lance Armstrong Initial 2005 Schedule:

Mar 6-13 — Paris-Nice (France)

Apr 3 — Tour of Flanders (Belgium)

Apr 19-24 — Tour de Georgia (USA)

Jul 2-24 — Tour de France

In other news...

Planet X looks set to appoint administrators

Rotherham-based bike company Planet X could be set to enter administration, according to documents filed …