Yesterday I walked past Phil Liggett on my way down Jasper Ave. ‘Hello, Phil!’ I said. “Hello there!” he chimed back with a small, but very polite nod.
Seeing Phil Liggett in Edmonton might have normally surprised me, but I was on my way to the Link Pink, Lance Armstrong for Breast Cancer luncheon fundraiser at the Edmonton Shaw Conference Centre. It was sold out, and packed! Hosted in the new Hall D, 1,100 of us sat around well-dressed tables of ten for a 3 course lunch before Lance Armstrong took the stage. His message, definitely one of triumph, hope and perseverance but to my surprise, Lance also took questions from the floor, answering candidly about his own personal and professional life, his future away from the tour (jokingly calling it his Retirement 2.0), and his family…
The Master of Ceremonies was of course, none other than Phil Liggett, the Voice of Cycling. And I have to say, it was pretty cool to have him moderate the show because not only is he a great public speaker, but he knows Lance so well. So through what could be best described as casual banter between two friends, the conversation stayed grounded on the core theme of the fight against all forms of cancer, but it was also at times really funny and entertaining, giving us an in-person glimpse into Lance Armstrong. Some of the questions that came up were actually a little surprising, ranging from the lighthearted, ‘who would you want to play you in a movie?’ (Lance’s answer: Danny Devito) to the more bizarre such as, ‘do you obstain from sex around competitions?’ (Lance’s answer: No way, saying you don’t want any kids looking like the milk man).
There were also more serious questions about whether Lance thought Andy Schleck can beat Contador (Lance’s answer: Yeah, he should have beaten him this year), and a question about FloydLandis that Lance decided to leave alone, for now. All in all, I found it was a really nice mix, delivering on both a very successful afternoon of worthy fundraising, and a chance to get to know Lance Armstong as a person, just a little bit better.
The ride in Jasper is today, and for those 50 riders who each raised a minimum of $25,000 (one of them raising over $50,000), it will be 100km of beautiful, summer day, Rocky Mountain riding with Lance and Phil, followed by a private dinner. Not a bad way to spend a day, if you ask me.