Former Tour de France winner Stephen Roche believes that Lance Armstrong should have his seven titles reinstated. Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Stephen Roche is among 12 former winners of the Tour de France who believe Lance Armstrong should have his seven titles reinstated.

Dutch newspaper De Telegraf contacted 23 surviving winners of the Tour and Roche, the Irish winner of the race in 1987, is among those who think it was wrong to strip the American of his record seven wins after he was exposed as a doper last year.

This week former UCI president Pat McQuaid dared suggest Armstrong — now serving a life ban — had become a ‘victim’ and Wada president Craig Reedie argued that life bans for dopers were ‘not legal’.

Armstrong has now found support from former champions. ‘Armstrong should stay on that list,’ said Roche. ‘In the 100-year history of the race you can’t not have a winner for seven years. Doping has been part of sport, not only for cycling, for decades. Who tells me Jacques Anquetil won clean? Should we take his victories away?’

Chris Froome, however, felt things should stay as they are. ‘Those seven empty places symbolise an era,’ said the 2013 champion.

France’s Tony Gallopin held off a charging peloton to take Stage 11 of the Tour from Besancon to Oyonnax yesterday. The Lotto-Belisol rider won by a bike length from John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), with Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) third.– Daily Mail