|Cyclingnews TV News Tech Features Road MTB BMX Cyclo-cross Track Photos Fitness Letters Search Forum|
Lance Armstrong: Soccer Dad & Superstar
September 13, 2003
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in San Francisco
Five days before his 32nd birthday and the day before the recent T-Mobile International race in San Francisco, Cyclingnews spoke to five time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong in an exclusive one on one interview.
Armstrong invited us to talk at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 45 floors above San Francisco Bay. Despite being a little under the weather from the stomach bug he picked up from his kids, we found Lance relaxed and in a great mood as he was looking forward to challenging the streets of San Francisco in his final race of the season the next day.
Cyclingnews: Hey Lance, I saw that one of your favorite bands Three
Doors Down is playing at the Warfield Theatre tonight!
CN: I wanted to ask you how you spent your summer vacation after the
Tour de France. I understand you took some time off to spend with your family.
CN: So you ended up just relaxing after the Tour?
Now the kids are getting old enough that basically every day they're changing and they're so fun. Luke has started soccer and he's back in school; the girls go to gym classes so despite all of our problems, we still do all of that stuff together. We go to soccer games together and still all go to dinner together. Now I'm an assistant coach on Luke's soccer team... (jokes) which is pretty scary for them.
CN: So now you're a soccer dad!
CN: The kids must love that!
CN: What is your take on Tyler Hamilton's move to Phonak?
CN: Why would you say that?
CN: How about Ivan Basso? I understand that Postal made him a good offer
for 2004 but he ended up signing for CSC.
CN: So the T-Mobile International is your last race of the season and
then you have two big projects coming in October: the Tour of Hope and your
second book, “Every Second Counts” coming out. How did the Tour of Hope concept
evolve with Bristol Myers Squibb?
So Bristol Myers Squibb wanted to put together an event with a group of cancer survivors, cancer researchers and family members to ride across the country and tell a story. And also, the stories from the Tour of Hope will encourage and promote clinical trials. Because no matter where you go in the world of oncology, a doctor, nurse or researcher, everybody will agree that clinical trials are the only way that we're going to make any progress against cancer. If you look at childhood cancers, the vast majority of children go on clinical trials. And the vast majority of them live, whereas adults, only two or three percent go on clinical trials and we're still the results of childhood cancer. So the Tour of Hope is also an opportunity to tell that story... and these cancer survivors, cancer researchers and family members are riding from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in teams and everybody is in training.
CN: Your friend Bart Knaggs is riding in the Tour of Hope...
CN: Where will you meet up with the Tour of Hope?
CN: After the close race at this year's Tour de France, I suppose "Every
Second Counts" is an apropos title for your new book. What's it about?
Every Second Counts is surprising; people who have read the whole thing are just... they love it! I have to say I'm surprised because I expected people to maybe read it and have a different reaction to it than (It's Not About the Bike). The first book was so powerful with the story of my illness and comeback, but I think maybe in a way, that book was even hard for people to believe. Whereas (Every Second Counts), it's just perhaps more real. It's more everyday life, it's more everyday struggle. It's a guy on a bike, a father on a bike, a husband on the bike. So in Every Second Counts, we talk about all these things: struggles on a bike and struggles in this world with children and with marriage. It's an open, honest book and Sally did her thing. She could write about, I don't know, anything... a rainy day and it would be just incredible.
We got lucky because the book was actually printed and in the warehouse and then the Tour happened. The lead time on books is amazing; they're done printing in July for an October release. So the publisher realized that this year's Tour was so exciting that it's gotta be in the book. So they went back and looked at how many new pages they could cram in there before the binding bends. It turned out to be 15 more pages and they could re-bind it. I mean, the book was done! But now we have a final chapter and the afterward, and we have another ending, which is a whole new chapter that includes the Tour and all the great stories about Luz Ardiden and the reaction from the team after that... it's good.
CN: When is Every Second Counts going to come out?
Dave Letteri (Lance's long-time friend and 2000 Tour de France mechanic):
When's your birthday?
CN: I understand you picked up surfing last winter?
CN: Any more enduro motorcycling planned for the off-season?
CN: At the final press conference this year at the Tour de France, you
said you were going to take some time off and not think about the Tour for a
while, but then you went right back to the Westhotel and started discussing
the 2004 Tour with Johan Bruyneel.
CN: So how will the winning template change? What will you change about your training protocols? How do you see your preparation changing for the 2004 Tour de France?
LA: Well, it will probably be different because of the situation at home. I won't leave in February and stay (in Spain) until the Tour. I'll have to come back and spend more time here in the States so I can see my kids. So I guess a rough draft will sort of be February and March in Europe, do some (training) camps in Europe then and do whatever racing I can, probably then only do Milano-San Remo if I'm going to do a classic.
Then I'll come back to Austin for April until the middle of May, so maybe I'll do the Tour of Georgia if that's still around. Then I'll return to Europe in middle of May and do the (Tour de France course) reconnaissance and the final month of June, probably not the Dauphiné unfortunately, but other races like Bicicletta Vasca and maybe (the former) Midi-Libre. Some variety of shorter races, five day races, but not 8 day races. And then the Tour. The kids will come to the finish in Paris and stay around until the Olympics, the whole three weeks.
CN: What are your objectives for the 2004 Olympics in Athens?
CN: Then after the Tour, you'll evaluate where you are.
CN: Lance, I've been wanting to ask you this question for years, especially
after your fifth consecutive Tour de France win. You're going through the Place
de la Concorde past the Hotel de Crillon with the Lone Star Flag of Texas flying,
then you're on the podium with the American flag and the Star Spangled Banner.
What was that like for you this year?
CN: On a broader note, how does it feel to have achieved superstardom?
I don't think you see yourself that way, but your global acclaim...
CN: Has that sunk in for you?
(Letteri cracks up in background): NOT!
You know life goes in that phase and I'm prepared for that. It's totally understandable and I'm prepared for that. Life is a little hectic and (fame) comes with its own set of circumstances. I really try not to get caught up in that.
CN: With the coming media attention and hoopla for the Tour of Hope
and Every Second Counts, it will be the first time a cyclist will receive such
mainstream media attention.
CN: To inspire another kid at Plano West High to ride their bike?
CN: Patrick McCarty?
As Armstrong spoke of passing the torch, the five time Tour winner showed that he is certainly motivated and focused on winning his sixth consecutive Tour de France in 2004. Thanks to Lance, Mark Higgins at Capital Sports and Entertainment and Jogi Muller of USPS-Berry Floor for making this interview possible.