Le Tour Today

Lance Armstrong won another mountain stage, and everyone’s crowning him the winner of this year’s Tour. One thing I wonder about is, given the continuing allegations that he’s been “doping,” is what the French and other European fans think about him. (No, I don’t believe the accusations, just as I don’t truly believe the suggestions that Barry Bonds has been using steroids; but sometimes you wonder if maintaining that belief is more than a little like clapping your hands to revive Tinkerbell in “Peter Pan.”)

Anyway, as Lance was approaching the summit on the l’Alpe d’Huez climb, there was a great aerial shot from a TV helicopter. I was checking out all the slogans the cycling fans had splashed on the road to encourage their heroes. The overwhelming majority of the thousands of messages cheered for favorites like Jan Ullrich, Richard Virenque, Ivan Basso, and yes, even Lance Armstrong.

But in one short stretch, Armstrong rode across messages that said “Lance EPO” (a reference to a blood-doping substance), “Lance Sucks,” and “F*** Lance.” Wow — seems kind of hostile. On the other side, though, there was this battle cry: “Rip Their Balls Off, Lance.””

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