Christian Prudhomme, hier apparent to Tour boss Jean-Marie Leblanc, believes Lance Armstrong and thePICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Christian Prudhomme, assistant to Jean-Marie Leblanc in the Tour de France organisation and the man designated as Leblanc's successor during the next two years, has added his voice to the debate surrounding Lance Armstrong's participation (or not) in next year's Tour. In an interview with the Velo101 website, Prudhomme declared that his "ideal scenario would be for Armstrong not to ride in 2005 and for Cunego, Valverde or someone else - and why not a Frenchman perhaps - to win the race, and then for Armstrong to come back in 2006 and challenge whoever had won in his absence." Former French TV commentator Prudhomme, 44, said that he thought that the American had nothing much to gain by riding the Tour next year. "He has won the race six times, that is the record. What would another victory bring him? It would scarcely add an iota to his notoriety," stated Prudhomme. "When Jacques Anquetil won his fifth Tour, what did he do afterwards? He missed the Tour and took on another challenge by tackling Bordeaux-Paris and the Dauphin. And everyone remembers that 40 years on. Armstrong is taken to task over the rest of his palmars. But imagine if he rode Paris-Roubaix and won it, that would really be something extraordinary." After joining the Tour organisation at the start of this last season, Prudhomme revealed that his role so far had been to watch and learn from Leblanc. Offered the role as the future Tour organiser last winter by Leblanc and Patrice Clerc, president of the race's parent company ASO, Prudhomme admitted it took him just three seconds to agree to move on after three years commentating on the race. He admitted that it may have helped that like previous Tour bosses Henri Desgranges, Jacques Goddet, Flix Lvitan and even Leblanc, Prudhomme is a journalist by trade. Asked what had struck him most about his prospective new job, Prudhomme replied that it was the security required around the race. "You see less of the champions than you do as a journalist, and you come into contact more with politicians. As far as security goes, you have to do all you can to maintain it so that the Tour remains the phenomenal spectacle it is that is so adored by the fans." Prudhomme said that his succession of Leblanc's position will take place progressively over the next two seasons, with Leblanc remaining at the top of the hierarchy until after next year's race at least. It could well be that Prudhomme's first period of absolute control of the event comes not in France, but over the Channel in London, which is the leading candidate to host the start of the 2007 event.