That was 2003, now as the 2009 Tour de France welcomes Lance Armstrong back into the peloton let’s take a quick look back and remember a past pedal mishap in racing history.
Shoes seldom play a role in mechanical problems so memorable but Lance Armstrong nearly lost the Tour due to his following a scary crash with a spectator.
July 21, 2003 was a day Lance Armstrong needed to attack to put the seal of victory over his rivals in the Pyrenees. The foggy weather shrouded the Col du Tourmalet in Stage 15 of an already stressful Tour for Armstrong. He was clinging to a lead and going head-to-head with Iban Mayo and Jan Ullrich on the penultimate climb of the day when strange things started happening.
As Armstrong gapped Ullrich with Mayo right on his wheel, a spectator’s bag caught the Maillot Jaune’s right handlebar and Armstrong shot over the bars. Mayo went down as well, over the top of Armstrong, while Ullrich swerved left to avoid the dumped duo.
A teammate helped pace Armstrong back into the fold. Ullrich wasn’t attacking, but a few switchbacks later Armstrong was shaken by another surprise when his right shoe slipped off his pedal slamming him into his top tube. He had never fully clipped back into his pedals after remounting from the initial wreck. In the video you can see how he was shocked by the disturbance – but the moment was mostly overlooked by some news reports on the stage.
It’s unclear what shoes Armstrong was wearing that day, but from the video they appear to be Shimano. The point is trivial though because Armstrong replaced his orthopedist the following off-season.
Either way, Armstrong overcame the brief moment of chaos and used his adrenaline to power up the climb and overcome the unlikely series of inconveniences.
Watch the video here, the pedal incident happens just after the 1:20 minute mark.