Crank was invited to last night’s Lance Armstrong Banquet Dinner held at Cape Town’s impressive new Soccer World Cup stadium. This was one swanky dinner, where guests could get up close to Armstrong, and ask him questions. After walking up to the VIP room I felt completely star struck by the past and present sporting icons that were in attendance. The evening got under way with MC’s Dan Nicholl and ‘The Voice of cycling’ Phil Liggett welcoming everybody and introducing the JAG speakers Greg James and Elana Meyer who gave the audience some insight into the workings of JAG and their relationship with Lance.
After a great introduction by Dan Nicholl, It was time for the highlight of the evening, the Q&A with Lance himself. I have to tell you, seeing and listening to Lance was something I had only dreamed of so being at this event was something very special. After a brief introduction speech by Lance which included some humour regarding his passport issues, Phil Liggett read out the questions submitted by the audience. Some of the things that Lance spoke about that stood out for me included his rivalry with Jan Ullrich and what happened during that famous L’Alpe d’Huez stage in 2001 where ‘ THE STARE BACK’ occurred, trying to entice Ullrich to respond to his attack.
He also spoke very honestly about his chances in this years Tour de France saying that the odds of him beating Alberto Contador were very slim but added that if there was no chance he would not be taking part. Lance rates Alberto Contador as his fiercest rival of all time and as the strongest all-round bike rider today. He then spoke about his relationship with countryman George Hincapie and what it meant having George by his side through all 7 Tour victories. He also spoke briefly about his childhood, how he fought his cancer and all the other things you already knew, but you still couldn’t help but listen like you were hearing it for the first time. Very inspirational and motivating stuff.
The evening ended off with a auction by Christian Stewart. Items included an Etching by Richie Ryall, Jewelry Art by Simone Shone, a Trek Madone replica that sold for R150k and finally a ticket to today’s Ride with Lance.
All in all it was a fantastic evening, good live music, great food and a chance of a lifetime to interact with Lance.