Paris, June 27 (IANS) Disgraced former Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong will return to the world top road cycling race to ride two stages in the Massif Central region in July, media reported on Saturday.
The 43-year-old Texan will join fellow cancer survivor and former England footballer Geoff Thomas, together with his team of 10 amateur riders in a charity race following the tour route, Xinhua news agency reported.
Thomas and his team are attempting to cycle each of the 21 stages a day before the professional race in a bid to raise one million pounds ($1.58 mn) for his Cure Leukaemia foundation.
Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour titles and banned from organised sport for life for doping in 2012, will ride the 13th and 14th stages respectively on July 16 and 17 from Muret to Rodez and then to Mende, each a 178.5-km ride.
“This is a charity bike ride, but we know Lance’s involvement in Le Tour has split opinion, so we’ve tried to be as respectful as possible to the Tour de France itself in terms of the stages he will be riding,” said Thomas.
Thomas was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2003, but has been in remission since 2005, while Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996 but he managed a healthy return to the sport following surgery and chemotherapy.
The Tour, which begins on July 4 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, was due to go over 3,344km in 23 days.