The 11-year-old son of Andrei Kivilev, the Kazakh rider who died following a crash in Paris-Nice 2003, has written to Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme to request that his father be awarded the overall victory in the 2001 race.
When Lance Armstrong was stripped in 2012 of the seven successive editions of the Tour that he won between 1999 and 2005, race organisers ASO decided not to reassign the wins.
Kivilev, riding for Cofidis, finished fourth in the 2001 race behind Armstrong, Jan Ullrich and Joseba Beloki.
Last year, French newspaper Le Monde said that Kivilev should be regarded as the “true” winner of that edition of the race, as the highest placed rider not to have been banned for doping, or implicated in it.
Yesterday, a copy of a letter addressed to Prudhomme and written by Kivilev’s son Léonard, who was aged six months when his father died, was circulated on social media.
The letter was given by the youngster to Prudhomme when they met at Paris-Nice last week, according to Twitter user @Biarnes72, a France-based cycling journalist. He tweeted a picture of it, and said the source was a Kazakh website. Written in French and on yellow paper, the English translation is:
Dear Mr Director
I am Léonard Kivilev. I am very happy to discover my father’s world and to meet you. I never met my father but I’m told he was an exceptional person. He always rode his race without cheating. I have seen the Tour de France 2001. I am very proud of him, and I am sure that he deserved first place. Today, there is no longer a winner. I would be very happy if my father could be declared winner of the Tour de France 2001 in his memory. Thank you for your understanding of my wish. And thank you for passing on this message to everyone who can help me achieve my wish and dream.
The death of Andrei Kivilev as a result of head injuries sustained in his crash during Paris-Nice in March 2003 led to the UCI making helmets compulsory in road races.
Immediately after his death, Cofidis team doctor Jean-Jacques Menuet, quoted on BBC Sport, said: "The injury Andrei sustained on his skull is located at a point that would have been protected by a helmet.
"Riders are free to wear a helmet or not, even though as doctors we would all like to see it become obligatory."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.