Lance Armstrong Return Could Boost Versus

Comcast-owned sports network Versus may get an unexpected ratings spike if a report that Lance Armstrong will return to the Tour de France next year is true.

While Versus declined to comment on the report, cycling Web site VeloNews is reporting that Armstrong will return to compete in five races next year, including the Tour de France.

One of Versus’ major properties, the Tour de France has been saddled with the retirement of Armstrong, as well as the perception that performance-enhancing drugs are commonplace among competitors.

Versus, which also carries properties such as the National Hockey League and wants to eventually land one or more elite sports-rights deals, would welcome the ratings boost as the network looks to expand the ancillary programming around its current assets.