That month long distraction called the Tour de France is thankfully over.
Now we can get back to the most thrilling and brilliant show in cycling Hollywood. The Lance & Landis show. The pilot was simply beyond expectation and the first few shows redefined the boundaries of episodic dope story telling.
Now that Alberto Contador has another yellow jersey we can return to the action. When we last left our two former pals and now bitter enemies, the plot was thickening faster than water near a BP oil pipe. BALCO houndog investigator Jeff Novizky was on the case along with Assistant US attorney Doug Miller. These aren’t the kind of guys that take six months, gobs of tax payer money and produce nothing. These are two strong characters with their own flaws and agendas and they will dig until they find gold.
In a stroke of master drama, show producers brought in old Armstrong nemesis Greg Lemond and partnered him up with Landis. Now they’re sharing lawyers and planning strategy. Throwing everything into the mix, the people behind Lance and Landis also gave a recurring role to blustery and ineffectual UCI president Patrick “hot air” McQuaid. The intriguing Armstrong “gift/bribe” angle keeps getting more fascinating and we’re up to two “donations.” Dynamic subplots are what separate formulaic crap from pure genius.
Okay, enough catch up. Let’s dive into the new developments because they have us so excited we’re on the edge of our San Marco seat. We’ve got serious witnesses with actual credibility about to go under oath. The potential revelations and bombshells are making our skin tingle. This is Must-See Con-Tro-Ver-See.
Before we had two comedic but in legal terms inconsequential witnesses, former riders David Clinger and Chad Gerlach. Great bit characters, fantastic walk-ons but nothing for Armstrong to fear. Clinger, the man with the full but half disappeared Maori face tattoo has his own demons. Chad Gerlach hit the streets so hard he was working as a male prostitute according to a local sportswriter familiar with his story.
They were a nice arm-up act but now we’ve got Big George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton swearing to tell the truth and nothing but. Lovable George rode with Armstrong for all his seven victories. In America’s eyes, he’s the stars and stripes champion and a man of integrity.
If Hincapie has something to say it’s going to carry several tons of weight. Again, chapeau to the Lance & Landis creative team. This is a classic moral dilemma for Hincapie — stay true and loyal to Lance the Legend or spill ugly beans.
The same goes for Tyler Hamilton, another top rider in his day, who was very familiar with US Postal operations. And ladies and gents, you don’t lie to the Feds. Operation Puerto was amateur hour compared to the drama of the Lance & Landis show.
Hincapie and Hamilton just upped the stakes but that’s only half the story. This is a show that delivers on every front: searing human drama and, yes, fall-off-the-bike-laughing comedy. We’re talking about the new main character in the show, the inimitable Michael Ball, the empty wallet behind Rock Racing and those expensive designer jeans. Turns out the Feds followed a trail of illegal activities from Rock Racing all the way to US Postal.
Now let’s step back and look at Ball and why he’s in the show — because he fulfills certain requirements of great story telling. First, having Ball play a role means you widen the conflict and push it beyond the narrow confines of cycling. Now we’ve got the fashion world, cocaine, sexy girls in tight jeans, Hollywood clubs and stars. Let’s not forget the eye candy and cinematography. This show was lacking hot babes and that oversight had been brilliantly rectified.
Second, Ball is a fantastic and quotable character in his own right. A man who described Francisco Mancebo, his top rider, this way: “It’s very simple: training, Spanish wine and f**k his wife.” Ball is a loose cannon that can take a story in a dozen crazy directions. A superb addition to an already first rate cast.
The Lance & Landis continues to astound: rich, unexpected characters, superb casting, exotic locales all over the world, hard nosed investigators, heroes and goats and a host of crazy bit players. Stay tuned.
*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.