tour of missouri: stage 2 / by Warrior Ant Press Worldwide Anthill Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

Tour of Missouri, stage 2, 126 miles, Clinton to Springfield.

The only cycling news in Missouri bigger than the fact that Mark Cavendish, once again decimated the field in a mass sprint to take stage 2 of the second annual Tour of Missouri is that Lance Armstrong is coming back to the field of professional cycling. His ride last month in the Leadville 100 was just a tease. Today he told vanity fair that it's for real.

Our guess is that Lance would like to prove that he wasn't a doper all those years when he was winning 7 Maillot Jaunes. It might also be coupled to fact that there currently isn't a pro cyclist who was as well-rounded as Armstrong in his day. In order to win the Grand Tours, and especially Le Tour, one has to be a good time-trialer and a good climber. You can forgo the mass field sprints and still win, but winning the field sprints won't get one to the top of the podium overlooking the Champs-Elysee. That's why, even though he's currently the best sprinter in the world, unless he learns to ride in the mountains, Mark Cavendish will have to be content with stage wins. There's nothing wrong with that. As of today, he's got 16 stage wins this year and a world championship to boot.

Caudel Evans, the Australian, who finished second in the last two Le Tours, will likely give Armstrong a battle next year. Alexander Vinokourov, who might contest the race, won't be invited next year, having been caught doping during last year's race. Same for the Michael Rassmussen. Out. All said, Armstrong, likely perceives this to be good time to launch a comeback.

It's also likely that some of Lance's teammates won't be in a hurry to power him up Alpe d'Huez until he proves he's back to form. In Armstrong's seven tour wins he was backed by some of the greatest teams ever assembled. It was not uncommon for Team US Postal (6 of the 7 wins were under Postal), and then later Team Discovery Channel, to completely destroy the peleton and match attack after attack on climbs and long stage races before Armstrong unleashed his Lance on the field.

In fact, it's not clear who the team leader of Astana will be now if Armstrong returns. Alberto Contador has what it takes to win again and should be the designated leader until Armstrong proves that he's not. Now that's something we'd like to see, Armstrong as a domestique. We think this prospect may have been what sunk his engagement to Sheryl Crow. Perhaps Astana Team Manager, Johann Bruyneel, will let Contador and Armstrong fight it out and decide mid-race who's got the best shot at the podium. Whatever the outcome, it'll be a boost to cycling as the average American, only cares about Americans. They may not know much about cycling, but they know the dude with the single testicle and the yellow bracelet.

First though, Amoury Sports Organization has to relent and let Astana ride again in the tour. There was much chatter this year that the French, were, well sick of les americains always winning had pulled a slick one to keep them out of last year's tour - won by Spaniard Carlos Sastre. This also might be a ploy by Armstrong to force ASO to let team Astana back in the field as Bruyneel was Armstrong's manager for all seven tour wins. When folks said it was all Armstrong, Bruyneel came back and within 2 year had put Contador in yellow on Sunday in Paris.