Armstrong fined for missed sign-in
LA GRANDE MOTTE, France -- Lance Armstrong will be fined for failing to sign in before Monday's third stage of the Tour de France.
All riders are required to sign in before every stage. Tour competition director Jean-Francois Pescheux said the seven-time champion would receive the standard fine, equivalent to $92.
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"He didn't sign in. ... The rules are clear: If he doesn't sign in, he will be fined," Pescheux said.
Pescheux also criticized Armstrong for not making himself more available to fans.
"We simply asked his team to have a respectful attitude toward the public," he said. "They want to see the team, they have been here since 7 a.m. and they don't see him."
Armstrong's return to cycling's premier race has sparked considerable interest. Big crowds have surrounded the Astana bus each day to catch a glimpse of him. Among those visiting the cycling star Monday was actor Ben Stiller.
Astana team spokesman Philippe Maertens said Armstrong was held up by signing autographs and doing interviews before the stage.
"It's because he was being so nice to the public that we were late," Maertens said. "It's not that we don't respect the public. ... We always try to sign in as late as possible because it's impossible for the riders to come back to the bus [before the stage] and there are too many people around Lance and [Alberto] Contador."
Stiller visited Armstrong in the team bus before Monday's stage. Armstrong had a brief role in Stiller's hit comedy "Dodgeball."
"I'm a big Lance fan," Stiller said. "It's my first time on the Tour. It's the real deal here. I'm very excited."
Stiller arrived at the bus when Armstrong and his teammates were discussing the day's strategy for the 122-mile ride.
"I tried to give him some pointers, but I don't think it was very helpful," the actor said upon leaving the bus with wife Christine Taylor. "He is incredible and he is so loose in there now."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press