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Saturday, 17 July 2004

image for Tour de France Shocker as Lance Armstrong Flies to Victory
“Up, up and away… hehe… suckers…!”

Tour de Farce: Shockwaves have been sent around the cycling world as yesterday's 197.5 kilometre stage, from Castelsarrasin to La Mongie, was taken by storm in rather unconventional circumstances. Five-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, having already broken most Tour records, has soared to new heights by being the first competitor to fly to victory using a spectacular flying pedal-driven bat-like wing machine.

Lance, despite winning the Team Time Trial with his US Postal team, had been relatively quiet up to that point, and pundits had been expecting the defending champion to launch his attack at any time - but not like this. Nothing had marked out Stage 12 as anything out of the ordinary. The weather was fair, if a little overcast; the road was flat, although it ended in a steep hill climb. Yet 20 minutes into the day's run, one cyclist had been disqualified for failing a routine drugs test and another was circling above the peloton in what was essentially a flying wooden bat, cackling like a witch high on LSD.

Determined to secure a record sixth Tour de France victory, Lance Armstrong had not spent the months building up to the Tour training as usual, but actually building a flying machine that would wing him to victory, basing it on Leonardo da Vinci's famous first attempt:


da Vinci's original diagrams

When this proved unsuccessful, Armstrong modified it according to Sir William Henson's Aerial Steam Carriage, adding in the mechanics for a pedal rather than steam-operated engine:


Henson's Aerial Carriage in action

Arch-rival Jan Ullrich, who was cycling beside the 5-time champion when the transformation from bicycle to cycle-plane happened, recounted how Lance stopped pedalling, shouted "Go Go Gadget Plane", then soared up into the heavens and away to the stage victory and 2hr48 minute lead. Spectators and competitors alike, above all the French who never cease to accuse Lance of cheating ever since he was born an American, had been expecting these unprecedented and infuriating antics to result in disqualification from the Tour. However, it has emerged that, via a string of bizarre legal loopholes, Lance's actions were entirely legitimate, and a repeat performance is expected again today. Lance's rivals, however, have other plans: an incensed French cyclist, Richard Virenque, has revealed to theSpoof.com that any future aerial attempts by Lance will be met with a sharp blow to the skull from a French baguette, possibly laced with Camembert.

Lance was unavailable for comment after the hallmark stage since a rare pigeon attack had left him with countless skin sores and a face covered in faeces. A US Postal spokesman, however, revealed that the team had been planning this coup for a number of months after discovering the loophole in the Tour rules. Apparently, since it is perfectly legitimate for cyclists to hold on to team cars whilst receiving team instructions or taking in food and water, an extension of this must dictate that it is legitimate for cyclists to "hold on" to team aeroplanes, or other flying apparati. The rules stipulate the no ground must be gained - but since, by flying, the bicycle is not actually touching earth, these and any associated rules are bypassed.

Officials, unable to change the Tour's rules mid-tournament, are now mulling over modifications to prevent replication of flying tactics in future Tours. Other sources have, on the contrary, reported that the top Tour executives are considering modernisation. "The Tour de France has now been running on bicycles for 101 years", an unnamed source explained. "Maybe now it's time to embrace the 21st Century. Maybe now it's time we competed in pedal-propelled flying bat machines."

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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