Lance Armstrong’s comments about winning the Tour de France clean failed to go unnoticed yesterday when the 100th edition kicked off in Bastia. His interview with Le Monde about doping still gained attention while riders raced for the yellow jersey.
Chris Froome told France 2 TV that Sky proved cycling has changed since Armstrong’s era.
“Things have changed since the Armstrong’s time,” Froome said in an interview filmed prior to the stage start. “Last year, Bradley Wiggins won I am sure without doping, without chemicals. We have shown that cycling has changed.”
French daily, Le Monde spoke earlier with Armstrong for an interview it published yesterday.
“Was it possible to achieve performances without doping? It depends on the race you wanted win,” Armstrong said. “The Tour de France? No. Impossible to win without doping because the Tour is an endurance test where oxygen is crucial.”
Armstrong clarified afterwards in Twitter that he was only referring to the period up until 2005 and his seventh Tour win. “Today?” he wrote. “I have no idea. I’m hopeful it’s possible.”
“I understand,” Froome replied to France 2 when asked if he realised that he would have to justify himself as a Tour winner.
“Unfortunately that is cycling, the history of cycling. That is a responsibility that I will find that I have to take in cycling at the moment.”
Only a few hours later, nearly 200 cyclists raced into Bastia. German Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) won the stage and the yellow jersey ahead of several crashes. Journalists asked questions about the rough day, his Argos team, German cycling and Armstrong.
“I do think it’s possible to win the Tour clean, and to win stages in the Tour clean,” Kittel said in a press conference.
“Stages like today show it’s possible, and that projects like my team show that in cycling there are a lot of people working on new ideas to make clean cycling. I’m proud of this win, as a sign that you can participate in the Tour and win in the Tour clean.”
“Enough is enough!” read a statement from the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) on the eve of stage one.
“Today the limits of the bearable have been reached! We have for many years shown our will to work for a flawless fight against doping. If there was a culture of doping in the 1990s, in the past 15 years our sport has been fighting alone against the plague of doping.”
The recent doping cases involving Danilo Di Luca and Mauro Santambrogio, and the continuing Armstrong scandal show, however, that the “plague of doping” will be a continued subject.