|good article: lance & france||tarwheel|
Jul 29, 2003 9:20 AM
|Today's New York Times has a great article about how the French have gradually warmed up to Lance over the years. I copied below, but here's a link as well (you have to register, but it's free). |
July 29, 2003
French Call Armstrong Class Act
By SAMUEL ABT
ARIS, July 28 - In a little-noticed ceremony, the photographers who cover the Tour de France awarded their Prix Orange to Lance Armstrong last week,
honoring him as the most cooperative rider. Two years ago, they gave him the Prix Citron, or Lemon Prize, an award for the opposite behavior.
The photographers' shift may have little meaning beyond Armstrong's willingness to smile more often for the camera. In a way, though, it mirrors a change in the
attitude of French spectators toward Armstrong, who has won the last five Tours.
He earned widespread respect when he made a comeback from cancer and won the Tour in 1999. There was coolness toward Armstrong when he dominated the
next two races - the French tend to admire the man in second place in most situations - and now there appears to be renewed admiration.
He now speaks a comprehensible French during television interviews, mending many a Gallic heart. And his autobiography, detailing his fight against a cancer that
spread to his brain and lungs, was a best-seller in France, enabling readers to know him as a person, not merely as a great champion.
At a meeting this morning at the Crillon Hotel, Armstrong, looking weary but sounding gracious, said, "It was a real honor to win the Tour de France as a cancer
He left the lectern to loud applause from the mainly French crowd. So it went throughout the Tour: cheers for Armstrong at the sign-in for each daily stage, an
abundance of posters supporting him in French and an absence of the jeers he had drawn occasionally in previous years.
When he was asked a few days ago for his reaction to the horde of fans with United States flags along the route, Armstrong said: "Many times you get next to them
and it's a French person. It's strange, but many times it happens. I can't complain about the kind of support it is. It's much appreciated.''
Then he spoke, as he often did before the Tour, about the need to repair French-American relations, which have been strained by the war in Iraq.
During the three-week race, fans voiced appreciation for Armstrong's skill and nearly unanimous respect for him. Again and again, people along the side of the
Tour's many roads described him as "un grand monsieur,'' which roughly translates to "a class act.''
That phrase first popped up from a spectator at the first stage, on July 6. After a crash left Armstrong and dozens of other riders sprawled on the road, a fan said he
hoped Armstrong had not been hurt so badly that he would have to quit the race. "Without him, the Tour loses much of its interest,'' he said. Then he described
Armstrong as "un grand monsieur.''
The phrase was repeated the next week by a police officer on duty in the Alps. Then there was a spectator, French despite the Washington Redskins cap on his
head, during the first individual time trial on July 18. The spectator and a friend described themselves as "not fans of cycling, but fans of the Tour de France and even
fans of Armstrong.'' Farther down the road, a counterman in a sandwich shop said: "I stopped following the sport because of all the drugs. When Armstrong began
winning, I came back, since I can't believe anybody who had cancer would take no matter what drugs. He's revived the sport.''
And, of course, the counterman called Armstrong "un grand monsieur.''
In 1993, when Armstrong was 21 and racing in his first Tour de France, he was relaxing out of uniform. Because of his youth and inexperience, his team, Motorola,
had him withdraw about halfway through the race. Armstrong mused about Miguel Indurain of Spain, who was in the
|...the rest...||JS Haiku Shop|
Jul 29, 2003 9:32 AM
|In 1993, when Armstrong was 21 and racing in his first Tour de France, he was relaxing out of uniform. Because of his youth and inexperience, his team, Motorola, had him withdraw about halfway through the race. Armstrong mused about Miguel Indurain of Spain, who was in the process of winning the third of five successive Tours.
"Indurain, I admire him as much as a person as a bike rider,'' Armstrong said. "He's a lord: gracious, generous, cool, always in control. He's the kind of guy I'd like to grow up to be.''
No doubt about it - in the judgment of the French and nearly everyone else, he has.