Monday, July 25, 2005

Veni, Vidi, Vici

Lance arrived in Paris yesterday in full form. As usual, we were waiting on "our" spot on the Champs Elysees to see him pass a few times around the Arc de Triomphe before whisking by the finish line. It was his record-breaking 7th win of the famous race.

The bicyclists pass so fast it really is all a blur. You could hear a lot of people asking "was that guy in yellow Lance?" It seemed most people were there to show their support for Lance.

The weather wasn't great yesterday. There was rain most of the day. My husband said we should leave later than usual because there probably would be less people out on such a dismal day. Well, I think there were more people on the Champs Elysees yesterday than any other year. It was packed, but my husband brought a small ladder so we were able to see them up close and personal. I took pictures, but since we are in the process of packing up, I'll add them later.

There were so many people speaking English on the Champs Elysees yesterday! I wonder what will happen next year when the Americans don't have Lance to root for anymore ... Not so many Texas flags, but I did see a couple of shirts and caps with "Don't Mess with Texas!" This year there were also a number of little signs saying "Lance Fan." It was by far the most commercial Tour de France. This year many of the teams had booths to sell their logo on shirts, key chains, bike gloves... and they were doing a good business. And we provided some of that business. We bought our son an overly expensive racing jersey to go with the overly expensive Paris Saint Germain football jersey we bought him for his birthday. He does treasure them, though. It seemed that nearly every other person on the Champs Elysees was carrying a shopping bag of the "Tour de France."

When Lance was announced the winner, the American National anthem played. Last year I saw a lot of people walking with their hand on their heart. Not so this year. However, I saw many, many more people with the American flag -- usually draped over their shoulders. I haven't seen so many flags since September 11.

In the end, the cyclists, with their teams, come around for a final lap and wave to the crowds. When the final team, Discovery Channel, took their lap they played Sheryl Crowe's "Soak up the Sun." Lance's loyal lieutenant George Hincapie from the Discovery Team held a huge American Flag that swung in the air as the team passed slowly by. The only disappointment was that Lance was absolutely surrounded by photographers and other hanger-ons. Nevertheless, the crowd went crazy. It was sunny when Lance cycled by his last and final time on the Champs Elysees around 7pm. I'm so glad I stayed in Paris to watch his last win.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
9:53 AM




Jealousy strikes again... Lance is from my hometown (Austin) so I feel even a greater twinge of pride when it comes to yesterday's win.

# posted by Sammy : 12:09 PM  

What a great idea to bring a ladder! We didn't think the kids would be ready for the crowds at the Champs Elysees, so we watched the Tour de France on TV, walked over to the Seine, then came home to watch the final laps on TV. You're right...they went by in a blur. I was able to take a photo with Lance in the front row. It wasn't very clear, but you can clearly see the yellow jersey. Best wishes as you prepare for your move!

# posted by Oz : 12:35 PM  

That's very cool that you got to see Lance. Must have been really exciting.

# posted by Kate : 4:17 PM  

I am enjoying your blog very much. I am moving to Paris in three weeks! Do you mind if I link to you?

# posted by Anne : 5:19 PM  

wow, i am happy that you got to see it even if crowded & probably crazy - so historic! all of america - happy for him & his team! Way to go, Lance

hey when you get to dc - the
National Gallery of Art has exhits in East Bldg. small french paintings and Matisse cut-outs so you can check it out & recall your fr. adventures :) -patty

# posted by Anonymous : 9:46 PM  

Thank you for the report from the Champs Elysee! I can't wait to see your photos. I tried taking some in years past, but Lance passed me by before my shutter even went off!

We love Lance too and wish the weather had been better (and tickets to Paris had been cheaper)so that we could have made the trip to see his last Tour. That's going to be a good memory for you and your family.

# posted by Anna : 10:54 PM  

While Lance may be a great champion, it always mystifies me that Americans see his win as just another reason to wave flags and be nationalistic. I don't think Indurain went around waving the Spanish flag quite so much when he won.

It's as if Americans are so incredibly obsessed with winning that they can't see the pleasure in just practising sports, that has nothing to do with countries in the first place.

Here, where we get to hear the coverage on the OLN, they never fail to couch his extraodinary winning campaign with words like "total beating," "incredible destruction," "complete annihilation." As if guys breaking their hearts in the mountains must be reduced to warfare.

I'm glad you saw Lance... I hope you also recognize that, though Ullrich and Basso and Rasmussen and Vinokourov are not standing at the top, they are also a vital and beautiful part of the Tour.

# posted by NARDAC : 8:29 AM  

The guy has won seven times let him have his time in the sun. And all the flag waving is to show pride and support for a fellow citizen. I know Americans aren't the only ones who do that. Maybe your right NARDAC , we should just do a way with 1st place and winners all together. I'll suggest it to the Olympic committe.
One thing that really gets on my nerves is stereotyping regardless if it's stereotyping Americans, Europeans, people with dark skin, religion, nationality, gender, race.....
The world is such a screwed up place right now and when I read comments like that I'm really not surprised.

# posted by Anonymous : 10:40 AM  

Watch out NARDAC ! You soon will be held responsible for the havoc the world is currently going through ! Just because you had the audacity to question the wisdom of frantically wawing the american flag like no other national flag ever was along the routes du Tour de France in the previous 100 years ! I understand the feeling of pride Americans share for Lance Armstrong (Who would know him - as a sportsman - without the Tour de France that is a competition set up by the French in 1904 ? thank you France ;)) but maybe some Americans could try understand how offensive nationalism may get beyond a certain level of display. Particularly in a foreign country when the opportunity in the national sporting event of that particular country..
This blog is a daily evidence that Americans are welcome in France but a little delicatesse with regard to others would do no harm.
A last word to assuage the sensitivity of the previous post : Yes, Lance armstrong is a great champion !


# posted by Anonymous : 7:08 PM  

NARDAC, I 'm very sure Auntie appreciates the other cyclists. Admittedly, I think most people don't even know of the other cyclists, because in the US the media is intensely focused on Lance. But I think one of the main reasons Lance Armstrong is so loved by Americans is because of his story. We as a whole love a good comeback story... and coming back from nearly dying is certainly a good one.

It's pretty well documented that in American sports and sports commentating, we tend to use a lot of war terms. You have a blitz in football, for example. Someone will "annihilate" or "destroy" the opposition. I think a sociologist may be able to have a field day analyzing that. lol

While I can understand why most of the world does find our behavior when we win at something annoying (most due to the fact because we seem to win a lot, and when we do win the boasting and USA chants I'm sure get to be a bit much) there sometimes is the ability to criticize a bit too much because everyone gets caught up in it. Very few people really get Americans patriotism to begin with, because it honestly really is something you don't find anywhere else, except maybe in a handful of countries like China.

In any case, this is Lance's last year, so you can be sure the Champs Elysses will be frequented by less Americans last year.

It was a great way to ring out your last few days there Auntie!

# posted by Joe : 7:34 PM  

it was a great day! ... so glad you and your children could experience it in person.

# posted by Becca : 4:41 AM  

Oh Anonymous, your comments are no surprise to me as well. If you read carefully, you would have noted that I mean no slight to Lance.

I'm no stranger to American passion for sport. I'm an avid fan of the NBA, NFL and NHL. I cried when Grant Hill passed to Christian Laettner to make the basket with 2.7 seconds on the clock in double overtime in the semifinals of the NCAA. In short, I like my sports dearly.

I like winners, but I appreciate the romanticism of sport more than just who wins. I don't want the Olympics to do away with 1st, but I don't want the media to do away with 2nd and 3rds either.

This isn't a sport that's native to the US, and yet the OLN seems to sidestep all politesse and divebomb us with americanisms. It's not only irritating, it's misinformed. There is a certain disrespect to the French and the tradition of the Tour that I am deeply opposed to.

I know Lance's story is made for TV, but as much as he was able to conquer cancer from force of will, it doesn't whitewash his other activities, and I'm definitely not talking about just winning here.

Oh, and belligerent flag-waving in other countries just seems terribly rude. I don't see any other country quite so flagrant in this practise, so excuse me for the stereotype.

# posted by NARDAC : 8:24 AM  

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