Good day, Bad day - stage 11
It’s taken the carrier pigeon all night to get here, but we can finally look back at the good and da
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE BAD DAY: Lance Armstrong: We’re all in favour of serious investigative journalism, but the France 3 crew who turned up at the US Postal hotel, interviewed the defending champion and then sought to infiltrate his room appear to have had dubious motives. Were they nave enough to think they would find something incriminating in the hotel bedroom of a rider who has had the authorities on his back for five years? Or were they just hoping to boost viewing figures with some ‘sensational’ footage? Marks out of 10 – pot shots at the champ are de rigueur in France – so a nasty nine for consistency. Greg LeMond: The former Tour champion’s outspoken criticisms of Armstrong are sure to have soured relations even further in an uneasy relationship that has nose-dived in recent years. LeMond’s decision to go on the record with his concerns over the Tour champion seems sure to have compromised his relationship with Trek, one of Armstrong’s key sponsors, and also distributors of LeMond’s bikes. Add to that the vilification of the pro-Armstrong clan and it’s difficult to see what the triple Tour winner had to gain. Marks out of 10 – courageous, foolhardy, misplaced? Whatever, it’s an all guns blazing nine for the three-time winner. Jogi Muller: Another busy day in the life of Lance Armstrong’s press attach. While Johan Bruyneel was busy translating the contents of LeMond in Le Monde (confused?) for the defending Tour champion, Muller was fielding the questions of the press in a hot and smoky press room in Figeac. “We will give you a response even if it’s ‘no comment,'” he said, exasperatedly as Le Monde (and Lemond) once more turned up the heat. Marks out of 10 – stress levels looked to be in the red zone, so that’s an agitated eight. GOOD DAY: David Moncouti: Local hero ‘Moncou-cou’ stepped up to the plate with a stylish stage win to refute the theory that he may be Mister Virtuous, but he never wins anything. Ironically, despite all their problems, Cofidis are having a fine Tour, with two stage wins and a brief spell in the green jersey. In addition, Voeckler and Moncouti enjoying such success will spell an upturn in enthusiasm for the French elite’s domestic fortunes. Marks out of 10 – a top 10 performance from a hitherto hidden talent. Pavel Padrnos: The big Czech spent another day in the peloton despite the seeming inevitability of his exclusion from the Tour, given all the information emanating from Italy. It seems that everybody except Jean-Marie Leblanc has spoken to the San Remo magistrate, who has now repeatedly confirmed the list of 10 riders who will face charges this autumn. Padrnos is amongst them, so surely the Tour will be forced to follow their own precedent – see Danilo Di Luca, Cdric Vasseur, Stefano Casagranda and Martin Hvastija – and expel the US Postal stalwart (and Stefano Zanini, also named) from the race. Marks out of 10 – a solid seven for survival (so far.) Campanile hotel, Issour: They’re functional, convenient, but hardly romantic (and surely not among Lance’s favourite locations for a 12-hour stopover). Yesterday, however, the drab and dreary French hotel chain enjoyed plenty of free publicity after the French media descended excitedly on the reception area of the Issour branch. And it wasn’t because of the quality of the cuisine. Marks out of 10 – not enough towels, no shower gel, boring TV and the restaurant’s rubbish. Enough said.