PARIS : Tour de France chiefs are facing perhaps their bumpiest ride since 1998 when the race kicks off under a cloud of doping allegations
involving five-time winner Lance Armstrong on July 3.
With less than three weeks to go until the start of the 21-day epic in Liege, Belgium, race director Jean-Marie Leblanc would be forgiven for
searching out a sympathetic ear.
Top contenders Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan and Spaniard Joseba Beloki are ruled out, robbing the Tour of significant sporting value in the year
that 33-year-old Armstrong could rewrite the race's history books.
However the American, a hero to millions worldwide after his successful battle with cancer before his five victories on the race, will be doing well
if he can focus entirely on his performances.
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