To Wear Yellow or Not to Wear Yellow…

July 6, 2005


…that is the question.

After taking the race lead yesterday afternoon, Lance and his team reviewed the tapes of their stage win. And while they did have the winning time, DaveZ might very well have retained the maillot jaune (yellow jersey) for another day had he not crashed. In 1991, Greg LeMond had a similar opportuntiy to wear the yellow jersey after the crash of an opponent. Greg opted to not wear the jersey.

With such historical examples on his mind, and with respect for a former teammate in his heart, Lance decided that he would not wear the leader’s yellow jersey in today’s stage. Chris Brewer had this to say about Lance’s decision:

“Tell me what other sport is there where the grandest champion in the biggest race says “No thanks” to being designated the overall leader on the basis of sportsmanship? When you consider all the chest-thumping, look at me, look at me of most major sports, this is one lesson I hope all you moms and dads out there take some time to point out to the kids around dinner tonight – it’s that big a deal…”

I agree with Chris. In America, we are often treated to players and coaches who curse, throw tantrums, and sometimes even throw chairs when they aren’t treated as they think they should be. We see bench-clearing brawls with fans who throw beer at athletes. But now we are reminded what true sportsmanship is about. Lance earned the maillot jaune at the expense of another man. To honor that man and to reinforce the historical examples of cycling sportsmanship, Lance chose to demonstrate why cycling is such a different – and honorable – sport.

Unfortunately, Lance’s gesture was met with the confusion of the race organizers. They urged Lance to wear the jersey. They even brought out the rule book to let him know that he had an obligation to wear the yellow jersey. So Lance got a second chance to show why he is a champion off the bicycle as well as on it. Rather than be stubborn or arrogant (and refuse the race organizer’s request), he accepted their authority on the matter – and their decision. In the end, he wore the jersey after all.

Gosh, I don’t know who was right in this matter. But I know that Lance had every opportunity to focus on himself. Instead, he focused on others and on the sport he loves. What a great example to everyone – myself included. Thank you, Mr. Armstrong.




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