By JIM VERTUNO, AP Sports Writer

AUSTIN, Texas (AP)-Lance Armstrong will ride in the 2009 Tour de France, marking the first time he will compete in that race and the Giro d'Italia in the same year.

"I'm committed to riding for the best guy," Armstrong said Monday, acknowledging the taxing schedule could leave him riding in a supporting role in France.

The Giro runs May 9-31, and the Tour begins July 4.

With such a quick turnaround between two grueling races, the seven-time Tour champion acknowledged his body might not perform at the same level it did when he won his last Tour in 2005.

"If you've been away for three or four years, it would be silly for anybody to think I could pick up where I left off," Armstrong told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Tenerife in the Canary Islands where Astana is training. "I can tell you I feel better than ever, I feel stronger than ever on Dec. 1. How that translates to racing, we'll have to see. Mentally, in terms of motivation, this feels like 1998-1999 to me." Read more from the AP...

Photo - DESIREE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images