- Posted January 17, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Lance Armstrong speaks out
The Color Yellow
- sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer
Since 2003, the color yellow has made an enduring dent on my memory. Every summer after that event, I took on the role of a spectator to join many others watch a spectacle, to witness a display of heart and endurance in the world’s most prestigious cycling event: the Tour de France.
In July of 2003, as I did a course in the French language at Angers, I was surrounded by people who spent their afternoon watching the Tour. I had heard of it before, but my stay in France made me love it. I was so taken up by this that I went to Nantes to witness Lance Armstrong retain his yellow jersey and assure him of a convincing victory over Germany’s Jan Ullrich, his closest rival that year.
The day is still vivid in my mind… Pornic to Nantes: the penultimate stage… Individual Time Trial… Strong rain all day in Nantes… Ullrich and Armstrong, in second and first, respectively, and therefore the last ones to start. Ullrich, who trailed Armstrong by only 65 seconds at the start of the stage, takes a spill… Armstrong, taking second place in the stage, pads his lead over his closest rival… British rider David Millar wins the stage… This was the day I encountered Ivan Basso (see picture), previous winner of the white jersey, and the one who would be runner up to Lance Armstrong in 2005. And with my poor instamatic camera (which is now a thing of the past), I had some pictures taken (shown here).
It was the yellow jersey won by Armstrong that made me a fan of cycling as it was a showcase of what the human spirit could achieve even after a fall. It was always a side story every year: Armstrong was a cancer survivor. Still in 2003, some stages before the Pornic-Nantes stage, I watched Armstrong rise from a fall in the climb to Luz Ardiden. What could I do that time, but admire such tremendous determination. And there was Armstrong—yellow jersey to savor in the end of the stage and eventually in the end of the Tour. It was his fifth that year. He would go on to win two more before he retired (and then again, return later).
The preceding paragraphs I had recounted many times with gusto. Le Tour was always a ready fare for my talks and the color yellow was always part of the souvenirs I kept. A friend gave me a treasured Livestrong bracelet.
But we have just seen what can happen through time—that heroes whose praises we have sung turned out to have stories that we would not want to hear. And we who have savored every thrilling moment of the stages, the struggles to the summit and the sprint in the flats—we feel a stale and bitter aftertaste of having indulged in the excitement of a sport that is now tainted.
I have watched Oprah’s interview with Armstrong. Knowing the truth may be painful but in many aspects, relieving. The Livestrong bracelet is tucked away among things unused. 2003 was the year I began my Tour de France journey; 2013 is the year I tuck away my role as spectator—just like the Livestrong bracelet.