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Lance Armstrong Trains for Tour de France

Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong of the United States says he has rediscovered his passion for cycling as he prepares to ride in the event next year.

Speaking at a news conference Thursday in Tenerife, Spain in the Canary Islands , where he is training with his new Astana team, Armstrong said he also feels his riding can help the fight against cancer worldwide.

Armstrong plans to ride in the Tour of Italy in May and then the Tour de France in July. The 37-year-old Texan and cancer survivor said that only minor back trouble has hindered his training.

Astana teammate and 2008 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador of Spain said he also wants to win the 2009 Tour. He said all his work will go to sacrificing and preparing for the race, which starts July 4. Armstrong said he thinks Contador is the strongest cyclist in the world.

Armstrong retired from cycling in 2005 after winning the Tour de France for the seventh time. He and Contador were teammates at the now-defunct Discovery Channel team. Armstrong plans to begin racing again next month in the Tour Down Under in Australia. He also plans to use racing to help promote cancer research worldwide.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.