Lance Armstrong, an Airstream and an incredibly ‘raw’ podcast
The Aspen Times
Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo stopped by the Airstream before work Friday, July 20, wanting to catch the last few moments of the Tour de France’s 13th stage with his friend Lance Armstrong. With fewer than 20 kilometers to go, DiSalvo asked Armstrong who he thought was going to win.
“I’m always picking wrong. I stopped picking,” Armstrong replied, matter-of-factly.
By this point in cycling’s grand showcase, Armstrong’s picks hadn’t been quite as accurate as those of his friend and former teammate George Hincapie, who was sitting next to him as they prepared for the day’s podcast. A generally good-natured person, Hincapie had taken on the “nice guy” role, as opposed to Armstrong’s often fiery approach.
“He is very animated and very passionate about every feeling on every aspect of the sport,” longtime radio host JB Hager said of Armstrong. “They were both very loved guys and people pick up on the way they talk about each other. The chemistry can’t be faked. But it’s funny.”
Hager, who still calls Austin, Texas, home, co-hosts “The Move” with Armstrong, most days from the Airstream that is parked near Armstrong’s home in Aspen’s exclusive West End. The increasingly popular podcast is focused on the ongoing Tour de France with direct insight from Armstrong, the sport’s most notorious character. Hincapie, also an Aspen regular, has become a frequent guest on the show.
“It’s funny, because we didn’t sit down before, like, ‘Lance, you’re going to be the cranky curmudgeon. George is going to be the nice guy that everybody likes,’” Armstrong told The Aspen Times. “It really was just an extension of our own relationship. But it also works.”
Lance holds court
Armstrong disappeared from the world of cycling for a while after being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for doping, but has re-emerged in recent years, largely through his two podcasts. It started with “The Forward,” which has 88 episodes as of May 4, and now “The Move,” formerly called “Stages,” that provides in-depth analysis for each stage of the Tour de France.
Without the constraints of the mainstream media, Armstrong’s podcasts allow him to be himself.
“On the content side of our show, I think what has made it so successful is it’s just raw,” Armstrong said. “It would be tough to do this show for NBC or any other major traditional outlet. You couldn’t come at it from our unique perspective.”
The show has evolved well beyond a simple podcast. It is recorded live and the Airstream currently is equipped with five cameras to give fans a visual element, as well. While the podcasts can be downloaded on iTunes, the video also is posted on the WEDU Facebook page.
“This is like your own channel. We are our own boss. There are no rules,” Hager said. “Can we talk about that? Well, hell yeah we can. There is no one to answer to. Which that makes it really fun and exciting.”
“We keep trying to up the production, just so people can consume it in different ways,” Hager later continued. “So many people love to see the video. They love to see the expression, which is hilarious, especially the dynamics with Lance and George.”
Armstrong has never been afraid to speak his mind and this holds true for his podcasts. What is really making the show click is the camaraderie he has with Hincapie.
“Like most of us in this RV, every morning we wake up and we think, ‘How do we get Lance to be less cranky?’” Hincapie joked during the July 20 podcast.
A new role
Armstrong is still adjusting to his unplanned role.
“The other thing I’m really sick of is the amount of emails, texts, tweets and Instagram comments about how everybody is so happy George is on the show,” Armstrong had said earlier in the podcast. “Because he balances out my grumpiness. People, I have feelings, too.”
While the show is thriving, Armstrong admits it will probably have a limited audience once the Tour de France wraps up Sunday.
“It is hard because these three weeks our audience is massive, but this is really the only three weeks anybody cares about in cycling,” Armstrong said. “We do shows the rest of the year, but the audience is a fraction.”
Still, it doesn’t look as if Armstrong is going anywhere. On top of the podcasts, Armstrong’s company WEDU continues to grow its brand and what it’s capable of. This includes the production of the Aspen FIFTY mountain bike race, which Armstrong said will return in September.
As for who wins the 2018 Tour de France, you’re better off asking Hincapie.
“Look, everybody likes you. I’m going to start agreeing with you,” Armstrong told Hincapie during that Friday show. “George is right. I agree with George. Whatever. The world is flat? Yep, that’s right. Everybody likes him.”