Looking for Lance 2

One of the biggest things that surprised us was how much of an international phenomenon Lance Armstrong really is.  Here’s why-

When we went to the individual time trial stage in Annecy, we were fortunate enough to watch the team busses roll in for the morning set up.  We also had the great fortune of getting right up to the barricade when the Astana bus rolled back into its place.  I was there.  Right there, where everyone wanted to be….in fact, withing 5 seconds of leaning my bike up, and stepping up to the barricade, people crammed in around me, 10 rows deep.  But Jennifer and I had the prime spot.

 

Out emerged 3 or so mechanics and set up crew.  Working on the bikes, the awnings, the trainers, the water bottles etc., but no Lance.  As we stood there, I heard at least 3 languages around me in the crowd.  As time went on, conversations started, laughs were shared, and acquaintances made.  Besides 3-4 Americans, I talked to a young lady next to us who was from Annecy.  She was there to see Contador and Lance.  She thought Contador was H-O-T!  But she liked Lance a lot too.  We saw a German man talking to the American behind us about how much he admired Lance and how he had brought his German copy of one of Lance’s books hoping for an autograph.  We conversed with several others, all hoping for a glimpse of their hero, their inspiration, their- well- whatever he was to them.  You see, it really seemed like there were people from all over- all the time- everywhere we went- who wanted to see him or wanted to get a picture of the man.  His stardom was even bigger than Matthew McConaughey, because when Matthew waltzed into the prep area, we had to explain who he was to several of the internationals around us!  (Sorry Matthew!)  But everyone knew Lance.

 

People from all over had come there to see Lance.  It was, I must say, a bit surprising, simply because, I guess, I thought of him as more of an American idol, if you will.  With all of the difficulty he’s had with the media (especially French media) through the years, struggling to be seen as honest, clean and a worthy victor in the Tour, it was surprising to see, even the French warm to his star power and cycling prowess.  I read one article there in an English newspaper that talked about just that – “The French people finally love Lance!” – seemed to be the gist of the article.  Maybe it’s the American ownership in me- feeling like we were the ones enamored with him, but, I am happy to report- it seems like the world loves him to!

 

After 3 and a half hours, we decided to give it up.  Matthew never did give us autographs, Bruyneel never came over to the fence like he promised one of our more vocal cheerers, and, no, sadly, we gave up our perfect position and never saw Lance up close.  I was hungry, and wanted to actually see some racing that day!  But, alas, we saw a heck of a show that afternoon as Lance blurred by us, gaining valuable seconds on the Schleck brothers, beating even fabulous Fabian Cancellara’s time to the line.  

It was really cool to open our eyes just a bit wider, as we saw how much Lance really means to the rest of the world! 

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