Lance & Landis Show, episode 5. Cabo and waffles.

Stephanie McIlvain: what's she telling the Feds now?

The Lance & Landis Show, the IT show, the must-see doping controversy, the show Mad Men wishes it was, grabbed us by our lycra ass and took us for a wild joy ride again.

Episode four rocked hard bringing in Betsey Andreu and the Onion for what appeared to be the Boss, breaking down at a public new conference to reveal that he had ddd….dop…. NO! It was a flash back, a dramatic rug pull that left us breathless and confused and our Kelme jersey soaked in sweat.

The fifth installment of the Lance & Landis show took off where that scorcher ended. The scene opened up with a curious tableau, a sudden and unexpected dramatic shift that forced many fans to ask the essential question: has Lance raised the white flag, has he suddenly lost his mind?

With Federal pit-pull, the bald and bad-ass Jeff Novitzky on his trail, and with evidence — however circumstantial or compromised — mounting up, the Boss unaccountably loses his aggression. Tank of testosterone empty.

With shit hitting fans from LA to Austin, the seven time Tour de France winner went into hiding in Mexico. A shocker but just the kind of brilliant story telling always delivered by the Lance & Landis show.

Had his mind simply snapped, his resolve and power evaporated? On the surface it was billed by Lance as an ordinary “boys trip” but it was an obvious escape plan: Armstrong, his long time agent Bill Stapleton and forever friend Bart Knaggs holed up across the border playing endless rounds of golf.

Yes, Juan Pelota flees to Mexico where extradition laws are shaky and the margaritas cheap. (Still to be resolved: did he bring any signature Trek art bikes or is this just surf and turf?)

The telltale signs: Anna Hansen and kids left behind in Austin. This was not a planned move — it was desperation, a midnight run, a man in #28 striped pajamas going over the wall and heading for a Cabo San Lucas safe-house.

One minute Mellow Johnny is at his son’s little league football game and the next, it’s No Country For Old Cyclists and he’s in a fortified Cabo bungalow with the shades up and a freezer full of microwave burritos.

In a masterful stroke, the show writers continued to develop Lance’s obsession with his new Honey Stinger waffles. Holy Humping Jesus, said Lance supporters, Rome is burning and all the emperor can talk about are his waffles.

This is the kind of character development that blows people away, like when Tony Soprano had his fixation with the ducks in his swimming pool. Searing, riveting and Freudian in a way we can only feel but never explain.

Meanwhile arch villain and nemesis Floyd Landis was making his own bolt for the bushes or in this case, the outback. The mad Mennonite was in Geelong, Australia ruffling UCI president Pat “hot air” McQuaid’s feathers. It’s an upside down world down under and suddenly the stakes are not only higher, they’re flipped 180 degrees.

Here’s the relentless genius of the show producers: they went into deep character for Landis, showing viewers another side of the Man Who Shot Liberty Lance. Landis delivered a heartfelt, honest, and professional view of doping in pro cycling. No jokes, no Kid Rock, no Fat Bastard ale, no cryptic cynicism.

Who’s crazy now, we’re forced to ask ourselves. The man on the lam or the man in the suit at the anti-doping conference? The mind reels, the world turns, the peloton trembles with anticipation.

Did she or didn’t she? Lance & Landis fans are still grappling with this poison ivy itch. Did Oakley gal Friday rep Stephanie McIlvain recant her original testimony that unlike Betsy Andreu (aka Kate Jackson) she never heard Lance tell his cancer doctors he’d used a whole pharmacy of  illegal doping products?

The sneaky Greg Lemond recorded her phone conversation in which, he claims, she might have admitted he might have lied in a might have way. After a fresh grilling by the Feds, her lawyer insists she stuck to her story and yet….

Would the sassy Stephanie, who once had Lance’s arm on her back at the Ante Up For Autism Auction, be willing to change her tune? Let’s just say she’s wearing the darkest sunglasses Oakley makes. Welcome to the show cast Steph and beware, rumors are there’s a mud-fight with you and Betsy in a future episode.

If this all sounds bleak and fraught with danger for the greatest endurance athlete of our time, a national treasure, the man who’s personally raised more cancer-killing dollars than anyone on the planet, then hit the brakes and study the show from another angle.

The Lance & Landis show is so rich in dramatic story-lines, sub-plots, stars and secondary characters that it keeps us second guessing from moment to moment, always on the edge of our San Marcos. Anything can and will happen at anytime, folks. Even Fake Floyd doesn’t know where this Abel & Cain thing is headed.

Because … what if Lance has already won? What if the Mexico boys trip was in fact a triumphant victory vacation? What if Armstrong is so confident that the Feds can’t break his close pal George Hincapie (who they sweated pretty hard) or Oakley girl Stephanie or former Postal teammate Kevin Livingston (now working as a coach at Mellow Johnny’s in Austin!) that he feels like he can golf and eat waffles all day. Do NOT doubt the iron will and Machiavellian power of the man once known as Lance Edward Gunderson.

Endless Questions, tantalizing clues, tangled subplots, a veritable pu-pu platter of dramatic and comedic possibility. Having already shattered all conventions and barriers, the Lance & Landis show continues to redefine what episodic black comedy is. It’s better than Mad Men and the Tour de France combined!

Lance & Landis Viewing Guide:

Episode 1 “Hot Air and sour Lemonds”

Episode 2 “Half Tattoos, A Ball and Designer Jeans.”

Episode 3 “Spin, cocaine and conspiracy”

Episode 4 “Betsey and the Onion”

Disclaimer: Twisted Spoke makes no claims of guilt or innocence or the validity of legal testimony or arguments. This is strictly a wildly imagined piece of creative writing. No actual events used in the making of this post. We’re just enjoying the best show that isn’t on TV.

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