Former US cycling star Lance Armstrong is back. Well, that assumes he ever went away in the first place. The disgraced drug cheat and seven-time winner of the Tour de France will ride on a charity bike tour in Britain next month to raise money for cancer awareness.
He will join former England footballer Geoff Thomas and a team of amateurs, who are aiming to raise one million pounds ($1.57 million) for Cure Leukaemia, by cycling in two stages, a day before the official Tour De France peloton goes through on the same route, according to the BBC.
Armstrong is to go ahead with his plans, Thomas said – even though he was advised not to proceed by UCI (International Cycling Union) president Brian Cookson in March. Thomas told the BBC he knew Armstrong’s involvement would “split opinion” so his team has tried to be as respectful as possible.
“The stages Lance will be riding come towards the end of week two when I know all the (charity) riders will need some support. I know his arrival will give them the encouragement they will need to carry on with this gruelling challenge and in turn raise as much money as possible for blood cancer patients.”
Armstrong is due to ride stages 13 and 14 on July 16 and 17, the BBC reported. Cookson said earlier this year that his involvement would be unwise. He said: “Lance would be well advised not to take part in that. I’m sure Geoff Thomas means well but frankly I think that’s completely inappropriate.”
The American was stripped of his record seven Tour titles and banned from most organised sport for life by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in 2012. He later admitted on US television that he had used performance-enhancing drugs during all of his Tour victories, and news of his controversial return to France has shocked many within the sport.
Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org