Turtur defends Armstrong’s pending participation in Tour Down Under
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Turtur defends Armstrong’s pending participation in Tour Down Under

by Conal Andrews at 4:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 
Federal investigation has been considered, but will follow UCI’s lead on matter

Lance ArmstrongTour Down Under organiser Mike Turtur has said that he has no qualms about bringing Lance Armstrong to the 2011 race, saying that as long as he has a UCI licence, that he is entitled to take part.

The American rider has been a big draw for crowds for the past two years, helping to raise the profile of the event. However he is also currently the focus of a federal investigation, which is looking into alleged doping in the US Postal Service cycling team. This means that his participation is likely to lead to mixed feelings in Australia and elsewhere.

Turtur admitted that the investigation has been something that the race organization considered. “We understand there's an investigation being conducted ... where that goes, I don't know, because I don't know enough about the investigation to make comment on it,” Turtur told AAP.

He said that they would take the UCI’s lead on things. “All we have to do is go by the decision of the UCI - if it came to a situation where there was going to be some issues, then obviously if it was instructed within the UCI that we needed to act upon this, then we would take the decision of the UCI.

“That would go for any licence holder."No.1 - I'm the biggest supporter of the sport in terms of getting rid of the cheats.”

The state government confirmed on Sunday that he would line out in the January 16-23 event, riding it as his last-ever international event.

Armstrong has previously been paid a hefty start fee, reported as being just under $2 million. This has been questioned by some, but Turtur said that the effect of having him on the race is a positive one, increasing the numbers of spectators.

“The proof is in the pudding ... if you look at the 2008 race versus 2009 and 2010, the numbers speak for themselves, they're staggering,” he stated.

“We're in a business here, I know we stage a bike race, but just as importantly, we stage a tourism event which is designed to do a couple of things - bring people to SA and also to increase economic activity.”

That publicity is something that he feels will outweigh any questions that may be raised.

“When you're running a business ... you look at things that work and are proven and deliver - certainly having Lance Armstrong on the start line caters for all those considerations more than we could ever have dreamt about. It's a major coup ... it's another major thing for the race that's going to further consolidate our position.”

Turtur added that with Armstrong not doing the Tour de France next season, that he is hoping he will ride more aggressively in Australia. He finished 29th in 2009 and was 24th overall earlier this year.

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