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by Shane Stokes
March 28, 2018
Armstrong withdraws from Tour of Flanders attendance, cites family matter as reason; EF Education First rider Martínez attacked by a car driver, hospitalized; Keukeleire out of Lotto-Soudal squad for Spring Classics; QuickStep Floors signs European Under 23 TT champion Asgreen; Gesink’s knee problems traced back to change in position on bike; More teams announced for Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah; Video: Behind the scenes with QuickStep Floors at Gent-Wevelgem
The controversial participation of Lance Armstrong as a special guest at this year’s Tour of Flanders will not now happen, with the Texan stating via Facebook that he will miss the race. Armstrong had been invited by the organisers and was also set to be they keynote speaker at the Tour of Flanders Business Academy in the build-up to the race. This led to criticism by some, who said that his lifetime ban from the sport should disqualify him from having such a role.
UCI President David Lappartient was one of the critics, and said that he would not attend the event if Armstrong was there. The Texan will now be absent. “I was very much looking forward to being in Belgium for this year’s Tour of Flanders, and regret that a private family matter has prevented me from being there with you all to enjoy what will no doubt be an exciting day of racing,” Armstrong wrote.
“As I’m sure many of you can relate, my family comes first, and I unexpectedly need to be close to home at this time. I’ll be following all the action from Texas, and there in spirit as a longtime fan of this historic, always action-packed race. I’d like to convey my thanks to Wouter Vandenhaute for inviting me to be here to celebrate another year of this true cycling Monument and Roberto Martinez for stepping in when I’m regrettably not able to be there with you.
“I look forward to returning to Flanders in the future and celebrating this special tradition, one of the greatest in all of sport, beside all of you.”
Martinez is the coach of the Belgian soccer team. The Tour of Flanders has said that it will refund the money of anyone who booked tickets for Armstrong’s keynote speech.