’99 Lance goes global

The old Frenchman was curious. The only person standing behind a low fence that separated fans from the bustle of the start of the 86th Tour de France, he shouted a question to a rider warming up on the rollers outside a small U.S. Postal Service Team van.

“How do you feel?” the Frenchman asked. His question was translated into English by a soigneur.

“Tell him I feel good,” the rider said. “How are you going to do today?”

the Frenchman asked.

“As good as I can,” the rider said. “I’m hopeful I’ll do well.”

“Good luck then,” the Frenchman said.

“You’ve got a fan club,” the soigneur said. The rider grunted, then smiled.

“One more question,” the Frenchman said. “Who are you? What’s your name?”

“Lance Armstrong,” the rider said.

“How do you spell that?” the Frenchman asked. “I’ve never heard of you.”

So much for fan clubs. Killing time before the prologue in western France, the old man had simply chosen the nearly solitary Armstrong as a way to avoid

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