Armstrong has not drawn French ire
MONACO - For all of Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France victories, he still hasn’t won the hearts of the French. That may be about to change.
“A lot has been made about that relationship between them and myself,’’ he said by phone this week. “The comments are not necessarily in line with reality.’’
Armstrong is awaiting his first Tour since 2005.
The 37-year-old Texan often put off the French during his seven straight titles with a self-confidence seen as arrogance, and an unapologetic crushing of rivals that seemed to drain the race of the suspense the fans crave.
There are signs, though, that the hostility Armstrong was greeted by in some previous races will be absent this time.
A poll published in yesterday’s edition of L’Equipe showed 72 percent of respondents said they were “not bothered’’ by Armstrong’s presence on this year’s Tour.
The race starts here Saturday. Yesterday, cycling governing body UCI carried out prerace blood tests of all the expected riders as part of a tough new anti-doping program, and the 20 teams were presented in a ceremony at the principality’s port.
Armstrong, in brief comments to a French television reporter at the presentation, said he felt “a lot of excitement’’ and “a heck of a lot of nerves’’ before the three-week jaunt over nearly 2,140 miles.
Hundreds cheered when the Texan and his Astana teammates were presented before the fans.
Armstrong said he has also noticed a warmer reception this year.