Lance who now stands accused and perhaps indicate why I am still holding to my grip as an American na?f, a true believer.
I have two short vignettes about Lance during the early days of the Tour. The first is even before the Tour started. We were all down at Fromentine for the opening stage 1 time trial. We are the Thomson Bike Tours 2005 trip to the
Valley. We were about twenty strong and very keen on seeing the start of the 92nd Tour de France. There was a teeming crowd and lots of excitement. Most of the riders were warming up in the shadow of the team buses and canopies, stretching it out on the rollers. I watched some of the good teams, CSC and T Mobile spinning up a veritable storm. The Discovery bus was hidden behind some others and unreachable so I did not see Lance warming up. I watched a dozen riders go off a minute apart, then took a break and read and napped some. (I thought that three years of race watching gave me a small dispensation to skip some of the riders.) When I woke, I found I was just right to see the last thirty riders go off and watched them with great interest, but was a bit dulled from my afternoon nap. Still it was a thrill to see the start of the world?s greatest sporting event get underway. I ducked into a brasserie right near the start house after Lance left and watched as he chased the time clock and Jan Ulrich, who had left one minute prior to his departure. At each time check it seemed clear that Lance was lining up Jan to make a slamming opening statement. Lance seemed to hesitate for a minute before he blew by Jan near kilometer 16 just three kilometers from the finish. The crowd howled and cheered like they were all from
Austin, Texas. A few were, but most were from
Belgium. It all seemed that Lance had lined up his tour preparations exactly right and that he dramatically declared that he was not to be touched in this version of the grand boucle.
However, that spectacular effort was not even the highlight of the day; it was still coming. After I walked back with our group to the pasture by the creek outside this small town where we were planning to picnic and avoid the crowded byways, my partner and our leader, Peter Thomson, told me he got a picture with my friend. I was intrigued and wanted to know to which cycling friend he was referring. He went on to recount how when walking back toward our encampment to make some calls outside the clamor of the crowd, he suddenly was passed by Lance on his time trial bike heading out of town for a warm-up spin. There