Yes, there were many stories in this year’s 85th edition of the Tour de France. There was Chris Boardman’s prologue high, and his second stage low. There was Festina’s scandalous attempt at a group, team high, with a carload of smuggled drugs. Then there was TVM’s alleged past and present evidence of getting high. ONCE, Big Mat Auber, and La Francaise were in the drug party as well. Other low points were the rider’s sit-in, on stage 12 (which proved to be anything but a 60’s happening), Laurent Jalabert’s exit, in protest of the drug/media circus, and even threats of a complete Tour cancellation, due to drugs and arrests... However, through all these sorted side-bars, the real story was Jan Ullrich’s Stage 7 time trial, where he resoundingly showed the world that he was back in top form. Yet, just when it looked like the Tour was settling down under Team Telekom’s control, “Il Pirata” again, stole the show from yet another sure race leader.

THE BIG STORY, however, actually unfolded about a month earlier, in a telephone conversation I had, just after the delivery of the July Eagle’s newsletter...


“Hello, Euro Freddie?”


“It’s me, Marco, Marco Pantani.”

“Well hi Marco, how’s the weather on the Adriatic coast?”

“Fine. Say, I’m calling because I want to thank you for your praise on my Giro victory in this month’s Eagle Newsletter.”

“Oh, well it wasn’t much, But your win was truly inspirational.”

“On the contrary, Euro Freddie, it was quite the opposite. Your column has just provided me with the inspiration I needed to fulfill my lifelong ambition to win both the Giro and the Tour, back to back.”

“Well, I’m flattered. But how could such a tiny little article realize such a lofty ambition?”

“It was all in the word BEMOANED. After I read your column, I realizes that I was my own roadblock towards success. I too had succumbed to the belief of our decade, that one must be a great time trialist in order to win one of the big tours. But when I studied your word, I found it to be an acronym for BE MOre ANimatED! That -and the fact that my Vittoria shoes and my signature Sella Italia saddle match perfectly- granted me the ability to soar over the Alps.”    


So, there you have it, cycling fans, except for a few rather revealing Tour de France statistics:

                                              Campagnolo............28 Tour wins

                                              Simplex......................2 Tour wins

                                              MAVIC.......................1 Tour wins

                                              Sh(censored)o...........0 Tour wins

<INDEX                                               AUGUST - 1998                                                    NEXT>