Armstrong to lose seven Tour de France titles

The US anti-doping agency has said it will strip cycling legend Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles, following his decision to give up his fight against charges that he took performance enhancing drugs during his career.

Armstrong to lose seven Tour de France titles
Photo: Wikimedia
The 40-year-old has been fighting since he was formally charged in June. He continues to claim his innocence but says he is is weary of the legal fight, according to a statement released on Thursday.
"The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense," Armstrong said.
The USADA has now declared that it is set to ban Armstrong from cycling for life and strip him of the seven consecutive Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005, according to a report in the BBC.
The anti-doping agency has alleged that Armstrong took banned substances as far back as 1996, including steroids, blood transfusions and the blood-booster EPO.
Armstrong had until 8am CET on Friday to declare whether he intended to continue to contest the charges, but has elected to end the fight to clear his name. 
He has previously sued in a federal court to block the charges but lost.
"If I thought for one moment that by participating in USADA’s process, I could confront these allegations in a fair setting and – once and for all – put these charges to rest," Armstrong wrote. 
"But I refuse to participate in a process that is so one-sided and unfair."
But the USADA has said that ten of Armstrong's former teammates have pledged to testify against him and accused him of being a "ring-leader" of systematic doping in the teams which he represented.
The former cyclist turned triathlete has meanwhile pointed out that he never failed a drugs test during his active career.
Armstrong survived testicular cancer before embarking on his Tour de France winning streak. 
He retired after his seventh tour win in 2005, but returned to compete for a further two years in 2009.

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Inaugural Women’s Tour de France to start at Eiffel Tower

The route for the inaugural women's Tour de France was unveiled on Thursday with eight stages, embarking from the Eiffel Tower on July 24th next year.

French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race.
French cyclist Marion Rousse delivers a speech next to Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme during the presentation of the first edition of the Women's Tour de France cycling race. Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP.

The first complete edition of the women’s version of cycling’s iconic race starts on the day the 109th edition of the men’s Tour ends.

After a route that winds through northern France, the race culminates in the Planche des Belles Filles climb in the Vosges mountains.

Danish cyclist Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig said she was over the moon to be taking part.

“I want it to be July now so we can get stared,” she said actually jumping up and down.

“The Tour de France is a reference and when you say you are a cyclist people ask about that. Now I can say I race the Tour de France,” she said after the presentation.

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Race director Marion Rousse, a former French cycling champion and now a TV commentator, told AFP it would be a varied course that would maintain suspense over the eight days.

“It is coherent in a sporting sense, and we wanted to start from Paris,” she said of the 1,029km run.

“With only eight stages we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.

“The stages obviously are shorter for the women than for the men’s races. The men can go 225 kilometres. For the women the longest race on our roster is 175km and we even needed special dispensation for that,” she said. “But it’s a course I love.”

Christian Prudhomme, the president of the Tour de France organisers, was equally enthusiastic.

“The fact it sets off from Paris the day the men’s race ends gives the new race a boost because it sets the media up to follow it more easily.

“It also means that with the Tour de France starting on July 1st and the women’s race ending on the 31st, there will be cycling on television every day of July.”

The men’s race is broadcast in around 190 countries.