Fallen cycling great Stuart O'Grady is set to speak publicly for the first time since returning to Australia after his drug use confession last July.
The Olympic gold medallist, who admitted at the end of last year's Tour de France that he had used banned blood booster EPO in 1998, is the drawcard at a charity dinner on Friday in Adelaide before the Tour Down Under's weekend start.
In circumstances reminiscent of Lance Armstrong's first official appearance after he received a lifetime ban for doping, O'Grady is the special guest for a cancer research fund-raiser that's being advertised as an ''intimate discussion about cycling''.
Proceeds from the ''Ride Like Crazy - Dinner with Stuart'' event, supported by the South Australia Police, go to the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation and Neurosurgical Research Foundation.
After the Armstrong illusion was shattered in late 2012, the seven-time Tour de France winner first spoke at a lavish dinner to raise funds for his anti-cancer Livestrong charity. Armstrong, still denying he doped at the time of the function, received a standing ovation.
Fairfax Media understands that the Tour Down Under, which draws the world's elite professional teams, has no official link with the Ride Like Crazy event. Plans changed dramatically for what was meant to be O'Grady's Tour Down Under swansong in his home town before the 40-year-old rode one last year for Australian professional outfit Orica-GreenEDGE.
A racing contract O'Grady had only just signed for 2014 was cancelled after his admission that he used EPO.
Had it not been for the confessional, forced by findings of a French Senate investigation, the Tour Down Under would have helped stage a hero's sendoff.
As it stands, the tour has completely distanced itself from O'Grady.
The guest of honour at the Tour Down Under legends' dinner is Scottish track cyclist Chris Hoy, a six-time Olympic gold medallist. Road veteran Jens Voigt and Cadel Evans will also feature.
Having returned to set up a permanent home base in Australia with his wife and children earlier this month, O'Grady is expected to be in Adelaide throughout the Tour Down Under but is said to want to keep a low profile.
He has declined to speak at a book launch celebrating the success of Australian cyclists and the 100th Tour de France.
O'Grady was to launch his own book this month, entitled Never Say Die - The making of cycling's Mr Indestructible, for which he had an international publishing deal, but it has been rewritten.