ESPN Gets Slam-Dunc’d
Being in Italy has it advantages. Great food, great weather, good looking women and great cycling. But writing for PezCycling News has really been an advantage. I get the chance to “ Slam –Dunc” some famous cyclists and managers, fly to Egypt to hang out with Cipollini, become friends with that great cyclist and Italian team manager, Franco Ballerini. I get mail from people all over the world and even get fan mail!!
Recently I got an e-mail from ESPN . “Duncan , can you help us out with our Lance Armstrong Biography?” Now who is going to say no to work with 3 guys like Chip, Brian and Dale on a Lance Armstrong Biography!?
The Lance Armstrong Biography will be aired on ESPN in July just before the start of the
Tour. The program is about the life of Lance, before and after his illness. We interviewed teammates, competitors, journalists, friends, photographers to find out what these people really think about Lance and to try to understand what type of person is Lance.
Chip , Brian and Dale were booked into the Leonardo de Vinci hotel on the outskirts of Milan on the 18 ,19, 20 , 21 of March. The great spring classic Milano- San Remo was running on the Saturday 21, so we set up the studio in the hotel and started to organise the interviews.
Telecom, Credit Agricole, Phonak and Once were booked into the same Hotel, so we waited for them to arrive and then asked some of the team managers and cyclist’s to be interviewed. Everybody was more than willing, and everybody tried to do the interview in English. The only the snag we had was with Telecom, the PR guy was great and gave a great interview (he was with Lance at Motorola and obviously with Ullrich in his years at Telecom) but Zabel, yes Zabel I’m afraid to say was just rude and very unpleasant. We respected every cyclist’s time and space and we were always mannered… but Zabel. We were all surprised.
We interviewed all day (to find out who we interviewed and what they said , you’ll all have to watch the program!) and on the Friday morning we interviewed more before moving across to the other side of Milan, near Linate airport, to interview David Millar (this guy is fun!!) a guy that has a few things to say , very open and brash!!
Then came the interview that we really wanted… Alain Bondue!!! If you read Armstrong’s book you will know who this guy is and he didn’t get painted as a very nice guy. So we wanted to hear his side of the story… very interesting!! Off record and when the cameras were switched off he spoke more at length… he’s not a bad guy and there are always two sides to a story… his is worth listening to!
Booked into the same hotel were US POSTAL, no Lance, but a few others who had a few things to say and some stories that made us laugh! The day finished late but Chip, Brian and Dale were happy. Before switching off the camera and going to eat, the last interview was for a man that writes for probably the best cycling web site for English speaking cyclists… Duncan Steele, PezCycling News Journalist … I’ve heard of him … haven’t you??
Then Saturday 21 March. Race day. We met up in Pavia , which is about 40km south of Milan and the first city in which the Milano- San Remo passes. Already 2 break away groups, wow!! It was all go and Cipo wasn’t going to have an easy day. When the peloton came flying past in an single line, Ballerini said to me that he thinks it will be like that until the finish… it did!! Does this guy ever make mistakes!!??
We filmed along the route and mingled around the finish, just to film the people and podium. San Remo for those who haven’t been, is a lovely sea town, great mixture of old and new. I went and visited some of the boys from Domina Vacanze (and to go and get the promised Jersey signed by Cipo, sorry but they had forgotten… again.) But with the accident that had happened during the race I didn’t insist too much as I could see all the team were a bit concerned.
Bumped into Richard Virenque, he was all smiles and seemed to enjoy his day… he said hello to all Pez readers.
The day finished with a long drive back towards Milan and a great meal at my friends Farmhouse restaurant near Pavia (if anyone is on holiday or passing through give me a call and I’ll get you a table!) We drank and ate and drank and drank some ideas were thrown around in organizing something in Cycling… you never know but one of these ideas could become a reality!!!
Be sure to watch for the program on ESPN!
Ciao 4 now Duncan