Turns out that people really like to listen to Lance Armstrong talk about cycling. The sport’s most enigmatic character — he remains both loved and hated — has become a rock star in the podcast world, at least during July’s Tour de France.
In its third year, “THEMOVE” podcast, which Armstrong co-hosts with fellow former pro cyclist George Hincapie and longtime radio host JB Hager, has topped the charts this week, ranking No. 1 in the U.S. among sports-related shows. This success has surprised a lot of people, including Armstrong.
“I can’t even tell you how shocked I am. Literally shocked at how it’s been received and how it’s been ranked and how it’s been reviewed,” Armstrong told The Aspen Times on Thursday. “To get to No. 1 after three days, I was shocked. Again, not to keep using that word, but so psyched.”
The podcast, which is more or less a daily breakdown of that day’s stage of the Tour de France, is produced by WEDU, Armstrong’s own media and events company. The majority of the shows are recorded live here in Aspen, where Armstrong has long been a part-time resident and spends the bulk of his summer.
In the past, the show had been recorded in a tricked-out Airstream trailer parked near Armstrong’s West End Aspen home. But this summer they’ve moved to more spacious albeit less mobile digs in downtown Aspen, which certainly benefits the claustrophobic.
“It was actually more convenient because we just walked across the street. This one you have to come down here, fight Aspen July traffic and pay for parking and all the things locals hate,” Armstrong joked about the new location. “But I think it’s been awesome. It’s big enough — I hate to get technical — but it’s big and there is enough of a curve where you can lean in and talk trash across the table. I think it’s working really well.”
Much of the show’s popularity is its rawness. Armstrong remains without much of a filter, his relationship and contrasting personality with Hincapie is plenty entertaining, and Hager remains the glue that keeps things from getting too out of hand. It’s a formula that has given Armstrong an avenue to remain relevant in a sport that did its best to remove him after the doping scandal that ended his career and stripped him of seven Tour de France titles.
“It’s a very simple setup. We talk about things we know probably better than most people. We are irreverent and direct and unedited, basically,” Armstrong said. “It’s easy. None of what we did today was hard. For it to reach millions and millions of people over the course of three weeks for something you love talking about and have an easy time doing, it’s too good to be true.”
Despite a lifetime ban from the sport’s international governing body, Armstrong has made remote appearances as a guest commentator during NBC’s coverage of the Tour, which started on Saturday in Belgium. This has been a controversial decision, but also is more validation that Armstrong will continue to have some sort of foothold in the cycling world, despite what the International Cycling Union, and most of his critics, may want.
As far as “THEMOVE” podcast, that’ll likely also be around for years to come.
“I cannot imagine a scenario where we stop doing this. Again, not to minimize it, but it’s easy to do and it’s a blast,” Armstrong said. “And look at our day. The hardest part of the day is getting up. After that, once you are up you watch the race, make some notes, do the show, and now we are going to go get geared up to go mountain biking for two hours. I’m not trading with anybody for that.”