Organizers of the Tour de France said Monday they prefer not to name substitute winners for the seven titles stripped from U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong for doping.

"We wish that there is no winner for this period," tour director Christian Prudhomme told reporters here after the International Cycling Union, or UCI, formally stripped Armstrong of the 1999-2005 titles and banned him from the sport for life.

"For us, very clearly, the titles should remain blank. Effectively, we wish for these years to remain without winners," Prudhomme said in Paris.

He acknowledged, however, that the final decision rests with the UCI, due to meet Friday to consider the matter.

The UCI needs to learn lessons from the scandal, the tour director said, adding that the Tour de France wants Armstrong to return the prize money for the seven consecutive tours the Texan won after his successful battle with cancer.

"The Tour will recover," Prudhomme said, pointing to the development of stricter anti-doping measures.

Armstrong's story is that of "a genuine talent who went off the rails (and) played with fire," the Tour de France director said.

The UCI decided against challenging the findings of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's 202-page report on the doping case, agreeing that all of Armstrong's cycling exploits after August 1998 should be expunged from the record. EFE