Tour director says fans spat at Armstrong
Wed 21 July, 2004 19:44
L'ALPE D'HUEZ, France (Reuters) - Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc has admitted he had seen fans spit at five-times champion Lance Armstrong during the 15.5-km time trial to L'Alpe d'Huez.
Leblanc also said the swarming crowds on the twisting climb on Wednesday had frightened him as riders, including Armstrong, were forced to weave through excited fans who jumped out on to the road.
"I was scared too and I felt relieved when we reached the section with barriers," Leblanc told Reuters after stage winner Armstrong described the stage as a "bad idea" and hit out at some German fans.
"Until this morning, everybody thought this time trial was a good idea and now we realised it was not so.
"There were lots of aggressive fans surrounding the riders and I even saw two idiots spit at Lance Armstrong."
"Unfortunately I doubt you can put barriers on the 14 kilometres of the climb," he added.
Armstrong, who stormed to victory nearly a minute ahead of his closest challenger Jan Ullrich and now looks set for a record sixth Tour win, urged organisers to think seriously about holding another time trial at the ski resort.
"I don't know if that's such a good thing for the Tour de France. I don't think it's safe. I think organisers should watch out," said the American.