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July 06, 2005

Armstrong declines yellow jersey, organizers insist

Eurosport | Armstrong foregoes yellow

Following in the footsteps of Eddy Merckx and Greg Lemond, Lance Armstrong said he wouldn't wear a yellow jersey earned through the misfortune of a fellow rider.

Armstrong said he wanted to respect the history of the race, and that, since "nobody has ever taken the yellow jersey from a crash," Discovery wouldn't either. David Zabriskie's fall yesterday has Armstrong in the race lead.

In 1971, Merckx and Ocaña contested an epic Tour stage in heavy rain. When race leader Ocaña fell, Merckx refused to wear the maillot jaune the following day. Similarly, in 1991, Greg Lemond didn't wear the yellow jersey after race leader Rolf Sorenson lost the race lead when he hit the pavement in a final sprint.

Today, at the end of the neutral zone, Armstrong put the yellow jersey on, but over his Discovery jersey; the OLN team suggested race organizers may have intervened.

Here's what BBC Sport has to say:

Stage five of the Tour de France has been briefly delayed by a stoppage at the official start in Chambord.

Six-times Tour winner Lance Armstrong did not want to wear the race leader's yellow jersey, out of respect for fellow American David Zabriskie.

Tour bosses halted the race before the start and told Armstrong he had to wear the jersey for the 183km to Montargis.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 6, 2005 in Lance Armstrong, Top Stories | Permalink


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Tracked on Jul 6, 2005 10:16:11 AM


I think that Lance SHOULD have been able 2 have declined as the others did in the past,& NOT been
forced 2 wear the jersey IF he did not feel right about it!! It was a NICE gesture on HIS part. WHY
did they INSIST?? For FOTO OPS, perhaps???

Posted by: Marjan Swantek at Jul 6, 2005 9:54:22 AM

i agree, especially since the race was so close yesterday, it was almost a fluke that the jersey passed hands today. i wonder what the problem was, why lance ended up wearing it. if it was from pressure from the race organizers, i wonder what amunition they had over him to force him to do that. i think that with lance's reputation, and the support that he would get from the public, that it would be in the organizers' best interest to allow him to show respect and good sportsmanship to other riders. i think it was a bad move to make him change his mind, no matter who made the decision. i think it would have been all right if he just wore it in the first place, but to decline, then to wear, was kind of a bad publicity move.

Posted by: stealthy_ninja at Jul 6, 2005 10:04:35 AM

It's interesting -- it seems like Armstrong is considering the traditions of the race, while the organizers (if the story as passed along is true) must have been concerned primarily about the race sponsors.

Each jersey has a title sponsor: Skoda is the white jersey, PMU the green, Credit Lyonnaise the yellow (and I can't remember the polka-dots). There was a story after Stage 1 about PMU being very pleased to have the most-photographed rider in the race (Armstrong) wearing the green jersey, since it gives them a lot of exposure.

Similarly, Credit Lyonnaise wants to see their logo on the news every day, and if Armstrong wears the Discovery jersey, they lose a lot of that exposure.

Posted by: Frank at Jul 6, 2005 10:14:56 AM

As Lance has mentioned repeatedly in many interviews; you can plan as much as you want but you never know what happens in the tour. Sicknesses, crashes and just plain luck are all part of the race. If David Zabriskie had fallen just 500 meters later his time would have been saved by the 1km rule, this is bad luck for David. However, more than other sports this is a gentlemen’s sport and there are many examples in just the past few years alone where the leaders just do not gain standing because of a crash. Even if the officials do not agree Lance, as in the past, is honoring these traditions as a true sportsman. Go Lance!

Posted by: Jim at Jul 6, 2005 10:53:05 AM

Two instances of recent Tours come to mind. Armstrong once waited for Ullrich to catch up after Ullrich fell, and Hamilton once forced the leaders to hold up after Armstrong crashed. Granted these were during the race, but it shows the sportsmanship the riders share with one another. It's too bad the race officials overruled that in homage to the almighty franc.

Posted by: Mark at Jul 6, 2005 11:50:46 AM


Posted by: Jarrett at Jul 6, 2005 2:00:52 PM

I just read that LeBlanc stopped the entire peleton approaching the end of the neutral zone and told Armstrong that if he didn't put the yellow jersey on he wouldn't be starting the next day (He would be disqualified). That HAS to be a money thing. Who knows if LeBlanc would have kicked Armstrong out..... Dave said he thanked Lance for the gesture and hoped he wouldn't get kicked out just before LeBlanc stopped the whole race and made him put it on.
It would be interesting to have seen if Armstrong had refused to put the jersey on whether LeBlanc (huge ego) would have DQ'd him. Then would the others just have raced on? Protested? What a final tour THAT scenario would have brought for Armstrong.

Posted by: Bill Hue at Jul 6, 2005 3:58:51 PM

FYI: The 2005 "Regulations of the Race", Article 10 (Leader Jerseys) provides "the leaders of the general time ranking . . . must wear . . the yellow jersey . . . . The wearing of the leader's yellow . . . jersey is mandatory from the signing-in before the stage until the press conference after the stage." Voila! Lance Armstrong made his sportsmanship point (the Spirit of the law), but in my opinion, properly complied with the Letter of the law once demanded(?) by LeBlanc or other TdF organizers. The other riders and the public know what is going on and can make their own judgments accordingly. Another instance of the participants trying to honor the race's traditions but being foiled by the political/commercial side of the event.

Posted by: Michael Kopinski at Jul 7, 2005 10:51:04 AM

There are multiple reasons that LeBlanc made LA put on the mallot juane for the stage... firstly sponsers pay ALOT of $$$ to have their names on that jersey and are insured that the yellow jersey in particular will have the most air time on every channel covering the race. Also, can you imagine that you flew to France from anywhere... the US, or Canada or wherever and were only able to see one stage of the tour and that was the day that there was NO yellow jersey to be seen... no matter what the reason, you would be bummed!! I totally think that it was very sporting of LA to protest, but it was the right thing to do for him to put it on before the race started....

Posted by: Nicole at Jul 7, 2005 5:43:06 PM

As a fan of Lance's now going on 15 YEARS, I have to say he is one of the classiest guys in a classy sport (wish LeMond could have kept his good nature). Don't forget that the Tour was started as a publicity event for a newspaper, and that the financial health of a team and the hard working domestiques is based on return on investment made by sponsors. It is a cruel cruel world, but at least we aren't kidding ourselves in cycling that sponsors rule, like so many American sports. I mean come on, I watch the sport for free (less hotel and airfare), I participate in the sport for free (minus a $3000 bike) and love every minute of it. Lance and other marquis cyclists CAN'T sit out the rest of the Tour or risk gettting DQ'd for real - It would be a disservice to those who pay their salaries, and the millions of fans who line the streets for a 2-second glipse of THE TOUR LEADER in yellow.

Posted by: Scott at Jul 8, 2005 4:57:27 PM

can someone help wiht planning , i will be travelling wiht my 12 yo son, and this will be my first time so catch the tour de france, we hope to be postioned for the finish of stage3 in La Grande motte. any advice for accomodations, how difficult it is to join the crowd at the finihs line, how difficult it will be to get from marseille to la grande motte? please advise thanks Lisa/adam
first time tour de france travellers

Posted by: lisa at Jun 8, 2009 11:11:05 AM