Monday Lance Armstrong Live Strong Sirius Radio report. Lance was live from Los Angeles with Higgs, Ben Harper, and Michael Ward on-air, and Dave Bolch doing the camera - probably taking some shots with his new D70. (Dave borrowed my D70 for a day during training camp to check it out before he purchased one.) Ben and Michael are obviously good friends with Lance and they were joking about Lance and Ben racing in the pool - Ben said Lance aced him because Lance had the flip turns and he (Ben) didn’t. Ben said he had a surprise for Lance the next time and it isn’t a “floatie”.
Lance did another explanation of why he is retiring after the Tour (Higgs wryly commented that the French are calling it “quitting”). Lance said whatever you call it, he is retiring to spend more time with his kids. Said that when he saw how much his kids had changed after he was gone for a month in Europe, that was when his decision was made. He said in one month his kids had gained so much independence, and that their voices, jokes and characters had changed so much. He just doesn’t want to miss out on being a part of that. Lance said that he has everything he’s always wanted or needed right now. Said he has six Tours and hopes to win a seventh, and he really doesn’t need another Tour after this summer.
He also said that he may still be seen at local races, but no more Pro races.... Said he was looking for some local races to do now.. I shot him an email to remind him about the Cat’s Hill Crit next weekend, but a crit is really not the kind of training that Lance needs for the Tour.
Ben asked Lance if he was nervous when he made his announcement in Georgia. Lance said that he was, because he did not want to read some formal, written announcement. He wanted to say it straight as he saw it, but he was nervous that he would leave something or somebody out when he was speaking. (I’m sure he knew, as always, how the media loves to misinterpret what he says.) Lance said that Tom rode like a true champ on Brasstown Bald - under lots of pressure from sponsors, press, fans and the one-minute deficit - yet he performed like a future champ and stood up and took off on the final part of BB... Lance said his own performance was not on the level that he expected - he compared with the 2003 Georgia TT and he was two minutes slower this year.
There was a lot of joking around - it sounded like stuff on he team bus. Higgs was trying to complement Lance about something and Lance joked to “shut up and stop kissing my ass”, Higgs shot back that Lance pays him, that’s why. Ben interjected that Lance is one person who he has never seen Lance kissing up to anyone - Lance gave a big laugh asked they’d seen him with Sheryl....
Lance told a story about going to Ben’s house, bringing pizza and beer and playing pinball. Ben said that Lance was really pissed when he lost. Higgs asked Lance, “What did you think? You played with someone who has a machine in their house!"
Ben sounds in awe about how Lance and the guys find a way to dig so deep during the Tour, during the end of stages when they are already so depleted. Lance said that the flatter stages, at the end, scare him to death. Said he is always petrified with the possibilities for crashes with the whole peloton jockeying for position for sprints. He says the climbs and TT are so much safer. Lance says the rule (for safety) on those flat stages is complete concentration: No friends, no talking, no looking around or you’ll crash.
Ben played “Diamonds on the Inside” - Lance said that’s his favorite song - it was very meaningful when he was going thru stuff in his own life. To him, it means honesty and facing up to you own truths and what’s right for people around you. It really struck a chord in Lance - to be honest and truthful with yourself is a core belief of his.
Ben talked about how special it was for him and his son to be invited into the inside of the Tour last year for Lance’s sixth. They rode in a pace car in front of the guys racing, and also rode in a helicopter and watched the race with binoculars. Said his son’s eyes were so big...
Higgs talked about when he first moved to Austin for college in ’95. Ben Harper had a show there, and Higgs needed to study, but he blew it off to see Ben’s show. Said Ben’s show blew him away and he’s been a big fan ever since. Higgs is really into the music scene, particularly in Austin, and the Austin City Limits presentations. (I’d love to be able to go down to Austin for some of the shows!)Higgs is a real pro as a DJ on the Faction shows - I'm impressed!
Michael Ward is writing a kid’s book called “Mike and the Bike” - Lance did a foreword, (Hmm - why does that sound familiar to me?) and Phil Liggett did a audio CD that comes with the book. The website will soon be up: www.mikeandthebike.com. Lance is very enthusiastic, because he is so committed to getting kids into cycling.
Lance was asked (by Ben, I think) about all the people getting out in front of him at the Tour. Lance agreed that it is dangerous, especially for him this year with the death threats before the Tour. Lance explained that he was a threat to the history of wins by both French and Basque heroes. Lance mentioned the multitude of one-finger salutes, hate, etc. on the climbs. Ben laughed and said, “Man, you ain’t even Black!” Ben said, tho, that he thinks it’s a beautiful thing that cycling is a sport where the fans can get so close to their heroes.
Lance mentioned Eki’s crash and said that Eki was “banged up bad”, but that Eki is a true Hard Man - the toughest guy that Lance has ever known. They talked about how Eki loves to pick up American slang. Ben (I think) told an Eki story, using a not great Russian accent - he asked Eki about the Tour de Georgia... Eki said, Vas real...Vas fun... Vas not real fun”.
Get well soon, My Iron Man, and get back on that bike - we all love you!!