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Armstrong is back

As Mexico reels under the threat of swine flue, seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong gets back to competition at this week’s Tour of the Gila in New Mexico after recovering from collarbone surgery.

Race organisers said after initially being barred from riding in the five-day event because of an International Cycling Union (UCI) rule, Armstrong, 37, was subsequently cleared to compete as an individual.

Armstrong broke his collarbone in four places during the first stage of Spain’s Vuelta Castilla y Leon last month, but will be able to compete with Astana team mates Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner.

American Armstrong said: “I’m excited to get back to competitive racing. The recovery training has been going well but nothing compares to getting back into the bunch and racing.”

Armstrong, who had a stainless steel plate and 12 screws inserted to stabilise his fractured right collarbone a month ago, was given the go-ahead to compete this week after USA Cycling reached an agreement with the UCI.

This after the UCI had cited a rule that prevents top professional teams such as Astana from sending organised squads to national-level races.

The Tour of the Gila starts on Wednesday and finishes on Sunday.

Armstrong, who returned to the sport this year after more than three years in retirement, intends to make his first appearance in the Giro d’Italia next month.

He is also due to race in July’s Tour de France but fears French authorities could ban him because of a disagreement over his behaviour at a doping test in March.