After two days on a bike with Lance Armstrong on the peaceful, picturesque roads of Colorado, the only incident of note for former Crystal Palace captain Geoff Thomas was being introduced by the American as the former captain of ‘Silver Palace’.
On the roads of France next month, however, it could be a very different story. It could be that the spectators who gather for the Tour de France may not appreciate seeing Armstrong pedalling past them ahead of the peloton.
It could be that they agree with Brian Cookson, the president of the International Cycling Union, who considers it highly inappropriate that Armstrong should return to France — even if it is only to join Thomas for two or three days in raising £1million for the Cure Leukemia charity. It could be that they also agree with Team Sky’s Sir Dave Brailsford, who shares Cookson’s concerns.
Armstrong rather hopes not. He hopes cycling fans see their effort with a team of amateur riders as nothing more than two famous cancer survivors doing their bit for a good cause.
He hopes they support Thomas for asking Armstrong to rejoin the battle against the disease even if the Livestrong Foundation has severed all ties with its founder.
Inspired by Armstrong when he faced his own fight against leukaemia 12 years ago, Thomas justified his position to this newspaper three months ago when he said he partly owes his life to the man stripped of seven Tour titles.
If Armstrong raises awareness and the money saves lives as a consequence, Thomas says he really is not interested in listening to cycling’s objections. He maintains that he can separate Armstrong’s doping from his cancer work and here in the Texan’s house in Aspen, two former professional sportsmen are united in responding to the criticism they have received. Criticism, Thomas explains, that led to the withdrawal of some sponsors almost overnight, but attracted support from others, such is Armstrong’s ability to polarise opinion. READ MORE