This Tour saw the mistreatment of Filippo Simeoni by Armstrong on Stage 18. Armstrong also made a "zip-the-lips" gesture on camera, apparently referencing Simeoni.
The route of the 2004 Tour was remarkable. With two individual time trials scheduled in the last week, one of them the climb of Alpe d'Huez, the directors were hoping for a close race until the end. For the first time in years, the mountains of the Massif Central made an appearance.
In August 2013, Jan Ullrich—arguably Armstrong's biggest Tour de France rival—reportedly said that Armstrong should have his seven stripped wins reinstated, due to the prevalence of doping at the time. He had won the 1997 Tour and finished second to Armstrong three times—in 2000, 2001 and 2003—but declined to stake a claim for his rival's stripped titles.
Initially the organisers had an option for a 22nd team, which would be Kelme, but after Jesús Manzano exposed doping use in that team, Kelme was not invited, and the race started with 21 teams of nine cyclists.
The book L. A. Confidentiel, by David Walsh and Pierre Ballester, came out shortly before the 2004 Tour, accusing Lance Armstrong of doping. Lance Armstrong and his lawyers asked for an emergency hearing in French court to insert a denial into the book. The French judge denied this request. Armstrong also launched defamation suits against the publisher and the authors, as well as magazine L'Express and UK newspaper The Sunday Times which both referenced it.