We Really Like Them Apples

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07/26/2003| 0 comments
by Paul Rogen
Mike Marquardt from Texas, a consummate Lance Armstrong fan, ambled down to me and said, “1:57, he's down, 1:57 and dropping back. He's cooked.” Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Mike Marquardt from Texas, a consummate Lance Armstrong fan, ambled down to me and said, “1:57, he's down, 1:57 and dropping back. He's cooked.” Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

We Really Like Them Apples

A Tour de France story from Luz-Ardiden.

my dear wife back in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Connecticut
.  My Thomson Bike Tour?s climbing partner, Mike Marquardt from Texas, a consummate LA fan, ambled down to me and said, ?1:57, he?s down, 1:57 and dropping back. He?s cooked.?   His face was hanging around his knees as we started mumbling about the mechanical problems and wondering why the Postal team could not get the wobbling titan a new steed.

 

 

 

We were still speculating and quietly preparing ourselves for the inevitable monumental news, the sea change was breaking and Ullrich was about to dethrone Armstrong for the first time in five years.    Then another roar and the yellow jersey came into view far below us.   Armstrong was flying.   He had regrouped after Tyler Hamilton had requested all to wait for his old boss.   Ullrich, remembering the reverse three years earlier on the Persuade, had been gracious and held up.    Seconds after they were all bunched, Lance seemed to be on fire.   He was now pulling away from all the orange, green and red colors and putting some accustomed distance between himself and the mortals.   We saw him darting through the crowd at over 30km per hour and could see the gap widening.    In a flash he was on us and around our switchback turning at an incredible angle and peering ahead with a ferocity that was otherworldly.   I checked the time and watched him motor up around the next bend and into the clouds.    I turned from the delirious religious experience and glanced at my watch, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, and then the archangel from
Germany
, Jan Ullrich plowed by in front of a small chase band.   Incredibly, he seemed to be going faster than Lance. This was all confirmed shortly when the buzz came that Lance had a 40 second, resounding victory.   

 

My friend and super Lance fan, Mike Malone ran down the slope and grabbed me in big bear hug.   He could not quit grinning.    Peter Thomson kept smiling and said it wasn?t over, Jan had taken back time at the very top and although a great day of bike racing had numbed us, the 2003 Tour de France was not over.    After more banter we mounted our bikes for the long twisting descent back to
Lourdes
.   But the day was not over yet.    Just as we hit the valley floor the French flicks, had stopped us for the stream of team cars to get by.   Dozens of racers had passed us when I heard, ?Excuse moi .?   It was George Hincapie, the huge Postie teammate asking to squeeze by me.    Within moments the gendarmes released us and I urged Mike Malone to catch the Postal team headed down towards
Lourdes
.   A few of our Thomson Bike Tour aggressive riders took off while I headed up our sportif group for a more controlled ride down the river back to
Lourdes

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