Tour de France riders on Friday dismissed claims by shamed US cyclist Lance Armstrong that it was “impossible” to win the sport’s most famous race without doping, saying his claims hit at their credibility.
Cadel Evans, who won the Tour in 2011, said he had shown it was possible to triumph without cheating, amid claims the focus was being shifted away from the start of this year’s historic 100th edition of the race, which begins on Saturday.
“I think the opposite. I am proof that that is not true,” the Australian BMC rider told a news conference in Porto-Vecchio, on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. “I sometimes read in the press what Armstrong says and I respect him as a human being but really I just focus on doing my own job as best I can.”
Evans’ teammate, the Belgian Philippe Gilbert, added: “If the media did not react there would not be so many problems. But it sells papers. We are concentrating on the Tour.”
Team Sky, which includes race favourite Chris Froome, said they did not want to comment.
Armstrong was asked in an interview with French daily Le Monde whether it was possible to win without taking drugs. He responded: “That depends on the races that you wanted to win.
“The Tour de France? No. Impossible to win without doping because the Tour is an endurance event where oxygen is decisive. To take one example, EPO (erythropoetin) will not help a sprinter to win a 100m but it will be decisive for a 10,000m runner. It’s obvious.”