July 21, 2004
Armstrong takes Stage 16, concerned about fans
Armstrong reiterated the danger he sees in having a TT on Alpe d'Huez, even though riders have escort cars that provide some shielding.
I had to listen to the stage instead of watching OLN, but one person commented that there were a lot of anti-Armstrong messages painted on the roads.
Hundreds of thousands of cycling fans and partygoers had lined the 15.5km route, making it hard for most of the riders to push their way through the flags and fans, some of whom insisted on running alongside the riders.
At one point Ullrich was even given a gentle push, however it simply served to destabilise the 30-year-old German rider and he had to correct himself in order not to fall.
However despite enjoying the win, Armstrong did not have kind words for some of the fans on the road.
"I don't think it's a good idea to have a time trial on the Alpe. It was scary. There were too many people, a lot of Germans, a lot of Belgians who weren't being too nice," he told French television.
"There were a lot of Americans as well."
I watched the stage and I can't recall ever before seeing such a crush of people so close to each rider. It was probably partly the camera angle, but the solid mass of people seemed to part only at the last second to let the riders pass.
OTOH, one has to admit that the crowd was well-behaved overall, as I neither heard nor saw any evidence of any significant interference with any rider, and it would have been so easy for a drunken spectator to wreak havoc on his favorite rider's rival.
I noticed only one "Lance s***ks" sign painted on the pavement, but I wasn't looking for such signs...and there were plenty more in support of him. Fans are fans, no matter the sport or the country. Some have class, some don't. I'd have to say that the overwhelming majority of those along stage 16 had the utmost respect for all the riders, even if they have strange ways of showing it.
Posted by: Eric at Jul 21, 2004 1:05:55 PM
Today wasn't quite as heartstopping as the stage to Plateau de Beille as far as fan behavior. The scariest moment for me today was that clown with a flag, running ahead of Jan Ullrich around some bends. Phil said he thought he caused Ullrich to slow down.
I was noticing some of the messages on the road too. Definitely some taunting of Lance with 'EPO Lance' and 'F*ck Lance' but I also saw 'Rip their balls off Lance'. Lol. It would be fun to get an overhead view of the route now that it's cleared to read all the messages.
Posted by: lancefan at Jul 21, 2004 1:12:23 PM
Just read somewhere that some spectators were spitting at Lance. I would suggest to them that doing that just makes him pedal harder so as to show off to those that taunt him. Those Basque folks sure act like Americans sometimes. Its a sport people!
Posted by: Speckled_trout at Jul 21, 2004 4:14:35 PM
I, too, saw some yobbo hork a loogie at Lance; from about six inches away from his left cheek. Lance didn't flinch -- or even appear to notice -- such was his composure and focus, I guess.
Posted by: M-J Milloy at Jul 21, 2004 5:51:51 PM
Where is the Lance fan club staying/doing on rest day in Pau on Monday, 18 July. I am there with my son and want to participate in the activities supporting Lance.
Posted by: Kevin Mullin at May 16, 2005 8:32:44 AM