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July 17, 2004

Armstrong: 'Lucky to make it through' Basque fans

VeloNews | Armstrong's biggest worry: Basque fans

Lance Armstrong said the huge Basque crowds on Plateau de Beille Saturday were exceptionally loud and agressive.

"We just passed a section of people, mostly Basque people that were pretty amazing, very loud and aggressive, though not all bad," said Armstrong.

"I understand they expected big things from Mayo. We looked at each other and said, 'Man, it's unbelievable that we went through that without being killed.' We were lucky to make it through that section."

Someone claimed on rec.bicycles.racing that fans at the mountaintop finish cheered when Armstrong was shown flatting on the descent before the day's final climb.

And, to forestall charges of anti-Americanism, I'll point out that France's Richard Virenque, the current King of the Mountains, expressed similar reservations.

"For the first time, I was frightened on a bike," joked Virenque, who is bidding for a record seventh polka-dot jersey on his 12th Tour. "I was afraid I might get kidnapped."

Above, a Casey B. Gibson photo proving that some gestures are nearly universal.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2004 in About the Tour, Lance Armstrong 2004, Richard Virenque | Permalink


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It had to be frightening for any rider today. My heart was in my mouth as I watched the scene on OLN.

But watch out for the spectator seeking glory of his own. There was that one turkey who ran along patting Lance on the back for about 20 seconds, and another running along with an American flag practically in his face. Those 2 were more frightening from my vantage than the fans in orange!

Posted by: lancefan at Jul 17, 2004 3:43:07 PM

Yeah, that longhorn/US flag guy forced LA & Basso wide on that switchback. On one hand I like to see Gringos who can get as crazy as the Euros, but I'd rather see them mess with the other riders! We watched the TTT in a small village, and it was eye-opening how likkered up all the spectators were! Some of those people today have been up there three days. Imagine the consumption! Riotious!

Posted by: Repo Man at Jul 17, 2004 5:05:01 PM

I was surprised by the dearth of porn painted on the roads. Usually the Basques cover the road with sophomoric paintings of their favorite body parts.

The hostility towards select cyclists could quickly get out of hand. Remember Eddy Merckx was once punched in the back by a jingoistic fan. Jean Marie LeBlanc should invest more into protecting the riders than in raiding hotels at 4AM.

Posted by: Jason at Jul 17, 2004 8:59:42 PM

Images of a dead heat; nose in front; what a stretch run! To think we were treated to such great action for two days in a row stirs a want for more. Armstrong & Basso are life.......

Posted by: james kenyon at Jul 18, 2004 8:30:19 PM