Just as the Tour moves into the mountain stages where everyone is expecting Lance Armstrong and other main Tour contenders to show their colours, Armstrong seems more concerned with scrapping with the French press.
If there was any thawing of relations between Armstrong and his French hosts in recent years, they now seem to be distinctly frosty again. In Figeac after yesterday’s stage eleven, Armstrong blasted French reporters and accused one in particular, from TV channel France 3, of trying to gain access to his hotel room, possibly to plant drugs.
“They show up and they ask sporting questions to our face, but as soon as they leave they’re digging in the rooms and looking for dirt.” Lance complained.
“If you left a B vitamin sitting there, that would get on TV and that would be a scandal. That’s what we have to live with every day.
“Nothing against the French but in France they’re after us and they’re after the sport of cycling. It’s not just the Ministry of Sport, it’s the media.”
And it’s not just the French media trifling with Lance, compatriot Greg Lemond has also questioned his integrity on the doping issue, and Armstong recently lost a legal appeal to have a rebuttal of drug use allegations printed in copies of new book ‘LA Confidential’. Armstrong though, shows no sign of taking the allegations lying down and the world’s media are now full of stories on the current champion, rather than his rivals. Certainly there’s a
growing sense of riding in the face of adversity for Armstrong, but who knows, perhaps this is the performance enhancer he really needs.
Armstrong starts today’s first mountain stage in sixth position, nine minutes and 35 seconds behind leader Thomas Voeckler. Tyler Hamilton lies in eleventh at 10:18 and Jan Ullrich in 17th at 10:30. After suffering several misfortunes in earlier stages other race favourite Iban Mayo seems is foundering back in 51st place, just over fifteen minutes behind the Tour leader.