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CYCLING

Armstrong faces loss of top French honour

Disgraced US cyclist Lance Armstrong could be stripped of the prestigious Legion d'Honneur, following his admission of long-term drug use while securing his record seven Tour de France victories.

Armstrong faces loss of top French honour
Photo: Wikimedia

Armstrong was awarded the title Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur – France's highest honour – in 2005 in recognition of his seventh Tour win, but moves are now afoot to have the honour rescinded, according to a spokesman for the order.

In January, Armstrong, 41, admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs during his record seven Tour de France championships from 1999-2005.

He was stripped of all seven Tour titles last year after a devastating report by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which accused the cyclist of taking part in one of the biggest cheating operations in sports history.

An investigator from the council of the Legion d'Honneur is preparing a report on whether to deprive Armstrong of the title in the wake of revelations about his drug-tainted career, and he will have three months to present his defence.

According to the order's code, French citizens who are awarded the Legion d'Honneur can be suspended or expelled after a conviction or "acts contrary to the code of honour".

And since 2010, foreign nationals, who do not officially become members of the order, can also be stripped of the honour.

British couturier John Galliano, who was convicted and fined in 2011 for racist insults, was stripped of his honour in August last year, having been awarded the Legion d'Honneur in 2009.

Last month, the US government decided to join a doping lawsuit filed by one of Armstrong's former teammates alleging that the disgraced cycling champion defrauded government sponsors.

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SPORT

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.

MAP: Details of 2022 Tour de France (and Denmark) revealed

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.

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