Lance Armstrong should stay away from the Tour de France, says Team Sky boss Sir Dave Brailsford, with the disgraced cyclist reported to be riding the route of a couple of stages of the race for charity this summer.
It emerged yesterday that Armstrong plans to join former England footballer and fellow cancer survivor Geoff Thomas for part of his One Day Ahead charity ride this summer which aims to raise £1 million for Cure Leukaemia.
Thomas believes that Armstrong can still inspire many like himself who suffer from cancer, and says that reading his book It’s Not About The Bike helped him fight chronic myeloid leukaemia following his diagnosis in 2003.
But Brailsford says that Armstrong, banned from sport for life in 2012 and stripped of results including his seven Tour de France victories, “will be a massive distraction” from the race if he took part in Thomas’s ride.
The Team Sky principal told Jeremy Whittle of The Times ahead of yesterday’s final stage of Paris-Nice: “Lance has done enough damage to the Tour already. He’s done enough damage to the sport.”
Referring to Armstrong’s return from retirement with Astana in 2009, he went on: “He came back once when he shouldn’t have done and I don’t think that he should come back this time either.
He added: “For the sake of all the clean riders in the peloton, for all the riders that are currently riding, who’ve already suffered enough from that era, leave them alone — enough’s enough.”
Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme pointed out that Armstrong could ride where he likes, but also expressed concerns about the attention his riding in France would attract.
“He’s free to do so, the roads are open to the public, but it will be a media event, that’s for sure,” he said.
While as might be expected there has been widespread condemnation of Armstrong taking part in the ride, others such as TV presenter and author Ned Boulting have wished Thomas well and expressed the hope it might help in raise more money.
Writing on Twitter, he added: “I'm not bothered about @lancearmstrong's public rehabilitation. This is about Geoff's fundraising efforts.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.