Armstrong to ride tour stages

Published: Friday 26th June 2015 by The News Editor

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Lance Armstrong will return to the Tour de France to ride two stages in the Massif Central region next month.

The disgraced American, who was stripped of his record seven Tour titles for using performance-enhancing drugs, will ride alongside former England footballer Geoff Thomas on stages 13 and 14.

Thomas, who made the announcement at a media conference in Birmingham on Friday, is riding the entire route of the 2015 Tour a day ahead of the professional peloton to raise money for Cure Leukaemia.

Armstrong will join the group on Thursday, July 16 for the 198.5-kilometre route from Muret to Rodez and Friday, July 17 for the 178.5km from Rodez to Mende.

The Mende finish is up a steep climb to the Mende Aerodrome.

Armstrong last rode the Tour in 2009 and 2010 and his decision to ride alongside Thomas has angered many, including UCI president Brian Cookson.

Thomas says the group are prepared for the furore Armstrong’s presence will provoke.

“We’ve got rolling road closures and motorbikes,” Thomas said.

“They’re confident they can deal with any situation.

“We’re not being silly about this. We know it might be a bit hectic for a few days, but I’ve had to weigh up the pros and the cons with this.

“I just think the awareness has gone worldwide. It’s up to me and our team to turn that into profit in the charity.”

Thomas admits other members of the squad were reticent about Armstrong’s inclusion, but the charismatic Texan has changed their minds after hosting them in Colorado recently.

“Quite a number of the team have already met Lance Armstrong. And they were sceptical about his inclusion, like everybody else was when it was first announced,” Thomas added.

“But after spending a couple of days with him I think they’ll look forward to him coming out. He’s a character. He’s a normal guy.

“It’s going to be a stage where he’ll come out and he’ll give a boost to the team.

“It’s been documented what he’s been through and what he’s done.

“As a sportsman I don’t condone that whatsoever, but I look at him as a cancer survivor and a guy who has raised 500million US dollars (£318million) for the cancer community.

“Getting involved in the fight again – I can’t see any harm in that at all.”

Published: Friday 26th June 2015 by The News Editor

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