Geoff Thomas will ride the route of the Tour de France one day ahead of the peloton this summer and has persuaded Lance Armstrong to join him for a couple of stages

Lance Armstrong will be back on the roads of the Tour de France this summer as he joins former England footballer Geoff Thomas on a ride to raise money for a cancer charity.

Thomas will attempt to ride the entire route of the 2015 Tour a day ahead of the professional peloton, and has persuaded the Texan to join him on several stages during the three-week challenge in aid of Cure Leukaemia.

The former Crystal Palace captain flew to meet Armstrong at his home in Texas to discuss the plan to get the disgraced cyclist involved in the ride, which will raise money for leukaemia sufferers – the cancer that Thomas overcame a decade ago.

But Thomas insists it was he who came up with the plan to invite Armstrong on the ride, rather than the Texan using the challenge to repair his reputation.

“If anything I’m using Lance here,” Thomas told the Daily Mail. “I’ve pursued him. I’ve flown to Texas to see him. I’ve persuaded him to get involved again.

“I believe bringing him back into the world of fighting cancer can only be good. And if I’m wrong at least I’ve tried. But I’m not sticking my neck on the line here on a whim. I’ve been thinking about this for a year.”

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Geoff Thomas will ride every stage of the 2015 Tour de France one day ahead of the peloton

Having beaten cancer ten years ago, Thomas set out in 2005 to ride the entire three weeks of the Tour ahead of the peloton, completing the 2,200 miles and raising £250,000 for the hospital that treated him.

Armstrong himself was a committed fundraiser for his Livestrong charity until his doping confession in 2012.

Thomas said: “As soon as you talk to him about cancer it’s obvious he wants to get back and help. I sensed a lot of pain there, that the door was closed on him by Livestrong. Because that’s where he wants to get back to.

“But I have a vehicle that can get him involved again now. And after what he did for me 12 years ago I’d like to do that. I’m not a religious person but I believe in right and wrong and I also believe in forgiveness.”

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Armstrong’s involvement has, understandably, been meet with a mixed reception, with Betsy Andreu questioning how Thomas can forgive the former US Postal rider for his doping past.

“How Geoff Thomas can forgive Lance for what he’s done to other people is beyond me,” she wrote on Facebook. “The egg on the face will be hard to wipe off.”

  • Steph Durant

    The footballer has his own agenda (and we can expect it is not merely “cancer support”; he’s likely into the fame, and adulation and “warm & fuzzy” feeling his effort would enable).

    And Lance definitely has his own agenda. It will be all about him, and about sticking it to everyone else. Same old.

  • poisonjunction

    I doubt they would have been so inspired if they knew he was cheating and bribing for over a decade.
    I wonder if the people who gave to the charity he represented would have done so, as readily if the truth had surfaced earlier, and ponder his cut from the money raised.

  • poisonjunction

    You summed him up perfectly!

    The damage he did to the sport and pastime of Cycling over decades, should not be underestimated. His unremitting lies, unlawful actions against critics, refusal to repay thousands of $dollars demanded for drug boosted performances and his subsequent lack of remorse, or admittance of wrongdoing, far exceed his pathetic attempts to seek redemption for his crimes, particularly by using a bicycle, the very vehicle he chose to abuse in his ‘second life’.

    Having totally misused that second life ‘given’ him after surviving cancer, has he so far proved he is deserving of another? Not in my opinion.
    ‘Sporting’ he most certainly is NOT, neither was he ever.

    He should seek other ways of redemption, other than by soiling Cyclings image by this ‘charity ploy’, but I doubt that is his desire or priority!

    No points for the ‘well read’ ex footballer, who apparently learned nothing about cycling from whatever he stuck his nose into, and risks his work by this recruitment.

  • Steph Durant

    Lance Armstrong is a sociopathic thug … all of lives.

  • David Bassett

    I had the pleasure of meeting Geoff Thomas when he rode Mountain Mayhem some years ago. He was the opposite of what I would have expected a professional football player to be. I was working on the spanners with my colleges from Shimano (Madison) and Alan Hewitt fixed his bike for him. He came back to the Shimano truck after each of his laps armed with egg batches and beer. Sadly Alan died last year when he was not as fortunate, to beat his battle with Cancer. I also met a lad at the café on Burton Marsh (Wirral) last Tuesday with full Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop gear on; he told me that it had been the inspiration of Lance Armstrong that had helped his dad beat that awful disease. I cannot speak highly enough of the likes of Geoff Lance and the lad out on his bike, and feel so sorry for those who can only criticise the likes of Lance. I hope to see Geoff and Lance on the roads of France this year and will be proud to put some money in the bucket (or on line if there is a link).

  • Simon Barrett

    I can only praise this effort and am certainly not bothered that Lance Armstrong has been invited to take part / help out. So he used drugs before, another life, whatever. That was then, this is now. Forgiveness wins over bitterness any day and there seems a lot of genuine reasoning here. Good for them. I hope Thomas’ event goes really well for him and is not met with any unwelcome comment.