Geoff Thomas backs Lance Armstrong invite
Armstrong can save lives says Tour charity ride organiser
Geoff Thomas has accepted the criticism over inviting Lance Armstrong to join his Tour de France charity ride but insisted the shamed cyclist can help save lives.
The former Crystal Palace and England midfielder has asked Armstrong to join him riding the Tour route this summer.
Thomas - who beat leukaemia after being diagnosed in 2003 - is trying to raise £1million for Cure Leukaemia and will tackle the course a day ahead of the main race in July.
Brian Cookson, the president of cycling's world governing body the UCI, called Armstrong - who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping - "completely disrespectful".
But Thomas insisted the American can still have a positive impact.
In a statement released on Twitter he wrote: "I understand some people will find it hard to accept Armstrong's support but my take is a simple one.
"If Armstrong's involvement in Le Tour - One Day Ahead and my goal to raise £1million for blood cancer can help save one more life then surely that can only be a good thing.
"I went to see him a few weeks ago at his home in Austin and he genuinely wants to help improve the situation of those with blood cancer.
"We are still confirming the details of how Armstrong will support Le Tour - One Day Ahead but it is likely to involve him riding a couple of stages and hosting a training camp."
Thomas added he has previously condemned Armstrong's use of performance-enhancing drugs but took strength from his book 'It's Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life' during his battle with blood cancer. Armstrong made a successful recovery from testicular cancer.
Cookson said the UCI has no authority to stop Armstrong being involved but urged him to think again.
"I'm sure that Geoff Thomas means well, but frankly I think that's completely inappropriate and disrespectful to the Tour, disrespectful to the current riders, and disrespectful to the UCI and the anti-doping community," said Cookson.
"I think Lance would be well advised not to take part in that."
In January Armstrong complained he was prevented from even walking an organised marathon to raise funds for charity.