Is Lance Armstrong nice to the fans

At 7.37 a.m. the past is there again. Whereby: Whether this is really just about the past is the question and perhaps the mistake that many in the cycling scene like to make. In any case, at 7:37 a.m., a big dark bus pulls up, it turns a loop and then it slowly pushes itself in reverse gear into the parking lot of a supermarket in the French town of Le Vernet near Toulouse.

An inconspicuous parking lot, that's not a bad punchline. In earlier years of high doping, Lance Armstrong, soon to be 44 years old, occasionally went to such a place when he wanted to meet his doctor Michele Ferrari alias Dottore Epo and hide it from the public. Now he's going there because he wants the public. Because officially the Texan is back for a good cause: He would like to support a project of the Leukemia Foundation of the former footballer Geoff Thomas. He put together a small group that drives the route the day before each stage of the tour. Armstrong accompanies them on two sections, and he makes his first appearance in this parking lot here.

The main question this morning is who is actually using whom for their own purposes: the Armstrong Foundation - or is it Armstrong the Foundation?

The Tour de France has been running for almost two weeks, with 21 large buses pulling up at the start every morning, one for each team, but none has been so besieged during this time as this one, in which Armstrong is also sitting somewhere. More than 100 journalists are there, two dozen cameras, the rush is as big as at its best. It's like a performance, but a performance only for the media; Spectators and cycling fans cannot be seen in the supermarket parking lot at Le Vernet. The French on the street never liked Armstrong, unlike their President Nicolas Sarkozy. He was always too perfect for them, too suspicious, too vain, that hasn't changed. So what you can see: Irritated-looking residents of Le Vernet, who have delayed their planned shopping because this guy from Texas is clogging the whole parking lot with his fuss.

The passers-by are confused: The guy from Texas is blocking the whole parking lot with his show

Lance Armstrong, that's a special story. Nobody was that high - and nobody was so down on the ground. For many years the Texan dominated the Tour of France and cycling, he set the rules of the game and made them his subordinate. He was the patron, and whoever had the courage to shake his status, he mercilessly destroyed. But at some point he destroyed the tour. No, not destroyed, nobody can destroy the tour; but Armstrong gave her one of the biggest setbacks in history when it became apparent in 2012 how extensive and systematic his fraud system was at US Postal. The tour years 1999 to 2005 no longer have an official winner, they are forever in the annals as a statistical stain for a dark time, and Armstrong himself banned them for life when he finally had to confess his offenses. The patron became the outcast.

And now the outlaw comes back and steals the show from the tour again.

They know how to create a clever staging in this Le Vernet supermarket parking lot. The door of the bus opens, three of Armstrong's fellow cyclists come out, then the door closes again. Shortly afterwards: the door open, two others out, the door closed. They even make fun of it, smirking, taking pictures of the journalists waiting downstairs from the bus. It goes like this four or five times. Only then does the maestro finally appear, "hi friends" he says patronizingly, hello friends, he wears the same dark blue jersey as his colleagues, the color is a bit reminiscent of the shirts of his US Postal team from back then.