Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Back in Yellow

After a rest day, where the riders still spend several hours training on their bikes, Austinite Lance Armstrong is back in the lead of the Tour de France and is in wearing the yellow jersey. This was the first of the mountain stages, where Lance and the Discovery Team usually dominate. While the second place rider is only 38 seconds behind, the real threats are several minutes behind. Unlike two years ago, there seems to be little doubt Lance will win again.

Sandy Rivers, of the JB & Sandy morning radio show, my favorite Austin radio program, was at the Tour last week during the team time trial. He said that the television coverage doesn't do the event justice. He said that you knew the Discovery team was coming near, as suddenly there were helicopters, cars and motorcycles. Sandy said the team whizzed by so fast that he couldn't even which rider was Lance.

Sandy also talked about the French people and fans. For the past 5 or so years, we've read how the French don't really like Lance. In fact, in the July issue of Outside magazine there is a great article on stuff of the stuff Lance has had to go through with the fans and media since winning his first Tour in 1999. We are lead to believe that the French and maybe most Europeans, hate Americans and don't like Lance. According to Sandy, this is far from the truth. In fact, he told the story of seeing this little old lady on the side of the road during the team time trial. She was waving two flags -- one the American flag, the other the Texas flag. Thinking she was from Texas, Sandy went up to talk to her. Come to find out that she was French and a big fan of Lance. Sandy said that she was trying to say "Hook 'em Horns" in a thick French accent, and do the hand gesture to show her support.

There are 10 more real stages of the Tour, and one final, mostly ceremonial stage that is the ride into Paris. In Austin we will see the excite grow over the next week, waiting for one of our own to do what no one has done before -- win 7 straight Tours. And then he will come home for good. As Lance has been saying, the faster he peddles, the sooner he will be able to retire.

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