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Swiss bike shop owner saves Kerry's bicycle

Swiss bike shop owner saves Kerry's bicycle
Secretary of State John Kerry, center, flanked by security guards, rides his bicycle along the shore of Lake Geneva, after holding meetings with Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif over Iran's nuclear program, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Monday. (Brian Snyder / Associated Press)

A bike-shop owner in this lakeside city has earned 15 minutes of fame for his heroic service of fixing Secretary of State John Kerry's broken bicycle.

Kerry, who likes to stick to his exercise routines during tense international negotiations, took a break from talks over Iran's nuclear program Monday afternoon to ride his bike along the mist-wrapped banks of Lake Geneva.

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As an intimidating entourage of security staffers and support vehicles trailed him, the secretary suffered a minor breakdown. Soon, Lionel Schumann, proprietor of Sam's Bikes, was startled to look up and see the 6-foot-3-inch American diplomat, sheathed in black spandex, asking for help with a derailleur.

Kerry, a connoisseur of sports gear of all kinds, "behaved just like a normal client," Schumann gushed to the local paper 24 Heures.

Sadly, Kerry didn't have a lot of time to "talk bikes," Schumann said. But "he speaks really good French and is super nice," the proprietor reported.

Schumann fixed the derailleur, part of the gear-shift mechanism, with a couple of turns of a screwdriver and didn't charge Kerry.

Schumann had admiring words for the expensive bike Kerry brought with him, an American-built Serotta with a titanium frame, a brand which typically retails for several thousand dollars.

"A really good bike, even if it is from an older generation," Schumann said.

Kerry himself seemed in good shape, he added, venturing that the diplomat's biking form was "not bad at all."

In January, during an earlier round of talks in Geneva, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, came under blistering attack from Iranian hardliners for accompanying Kerry on a brisk 15-minute lakeside walk. The conservatives charged that Zarif shouldn't be so chummy with the envoy of a government they consider their deadly enemy.

So far this week, Zarif has stayed away from Kerry's exercise breaks.

For more on U.S. foreign relations, follow @RichtPau on Twitter.

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