Tour de France – stage 18, July 23 2004
The previous issue’s Link told the story of non-racing, two riders battling for the lanterne rouge. This leads us neatly to an unsavoury tale of one competitor stopping another from racing.
If Lance Armstrong was indeed a bully and all-round unpleasant individual during his Tour reign, this tawdry episode neatly encapsulates the whole sorry period.
Filippo Simeoni, a former doper himself who had taken a reduced ban in return for testimony against Dr Michele Ferrari, had joined the six-man break for the day, only for Armstrong to jump across and suggest, in no uncertain terms, he desist. The break would not be allowed to go with the maillot jaune in tow, so Simeoni had no option but to return to the peloton, alongside a smugly satisfied Armstrong.
The American joked around with fellow members of the bunch once back in the fold, even making the ‘zipped lips’ gesture, having made it perfectly clear that any rider spitting in the soup would have to deal with him afterwards. The dark days of the Tour don’t get much darker.
Your suggestions – preferably more upbeat, and one we can find a photo for – to follow on from sorry tale for issue 17.6 please. Email the connection and the story to firstname.lastname@example.org