June 21, 2006
18-year Tour director looking forward to being ordinary spectator
One veteran approaching his last Tour is Jean-Marie Leblanc, the Tour's director emeritus. Christian Prudhomme has taken over the primary duties of director, but Leblanc will assist this year with carrying special guests of the Tour in the 2nd official's car.
Samuel Abt talked to Leblanc about the high and low points of his 18 years as director and his advice for the riders and spectators. Leblanc is looking forward to one stage in particular next year:
“I don't know where exactly, perhaps in the mountains - I'll be with the race as a tourist, an ordinary spectator.
“I'll be at the side of the road with a picnic, a cooler, a hat, my grandchildren and dark glasses so nobody will recognize me. And I'll see the whole Tour - because I don't know it. The publicity caravan, the press cars, everything.
“For 18 years I've been at the front of the pack and I've never had a total vision of the race. That's what I want: to explain to my grandchildren, 'That's the publicity caravan, those are the journalists.'
“And those are, of course, the riders,” he can say. “I was one of them myself," he can explain. “In 1968, I finished 58th in the Tour de France and in 1970 I was 83rd. Then my life changed.”
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