Spotlight On The Move: My Review Of Lance Armstrong’s Podcast

Cost

Free

Link

Format

Lance Armstrong, is joined by host JB  Hager, to review certain Classics and longer stage races, such as the grand tours. Shows are available both in podcast format, as well as via YouTube from a converted caravan studio. Overall the format is simple, they watch the day’s cycling on TV, and then do a simple review, where JB may ask some basic questions on cycling itself.

Review

“He was an evil mastermind or an inspirational avatar, an unrepentant cheater who ruined his sport or a martyr for a sport that has always been dirty. He was a survivor, a beacon of hope to cancer patients, a dad, a drug runner, a podcast host, an unbelievable and unrepentant asshole or a single-minded competitor.”

– Patrick Redford, Deadspin

Of course, there are many pieces out there covering the Move (and in its previous form, The Stage Podcast). But I found most of these to cover Lance’s “comeback” as opposed to the podcast itself.  For example, see Barry Glendenning’s review in the Guardian. So now that’s it’s been up and running for a year, here’s my take on it.

The show runs straightforward enough, with Lance giving his views on the days racing, kept on track by JB. There are also guest appearances from George Hincapie, Bobby Julich, and Johann Bruynel. Lance will always be Lance. And for most that’s the main draw of the show: people will tune in for some acidic commentary.

It goges without saying, there’s no arguing with his pedigree as a bike racer. But he did stop following the sport for many years, and this was quite clear, especially in the first few shows. Unless he had actually raced with them he usually didn’t know who were the main protagonists were. There were also massive gaps in his knowledge of how sports science and technology have evolved.

However, Hager was, and is, worse (Lance’s knowledge has, of course, come up to speed after 1.5 seasons back of punditry). Given that his job is to lead Lance on discussions, I would expect that a host would at least do some modicum of research. But alas no.

Hager comes across as a really nice guy. But even if he hasn’t followed the sport, you would at least expect him to consume some media, as research. It leaves you feeling that if Lance hasn’t explained some particular jargon before, then Hager will never have heard of it. While I find it frustrating, to say the least, at least it may help some of the audience. It’s fair to assume that the target market here aren’t Europeans who are already versed in the ways of the peloton. Rather, it’s acting as a gateway for an American market.

A big plus that the show has is the access to those still involved in the sport (Julich etc also). While on it’s own I may not learn anything I haven’t heard on other podcasts, insights from the likes of Julich and Hincapie can often be fascinating.
Meanwhile,  the stand-out this year for me was not even the main show, but rather the “B-Fast with Boswell” podcasts. This is available as another show on the main feed.
This took the form of almost daily conversations between Katusha’s Ian Boswell, and his friend, Marshall Opel, himself an ex-pro. Getting such unfettered access to a rider in the middle of the tour is great. It’s definitely a format that works well, and something I hope they will repeat for other Grand Tours. It’s definitely a format that works well.
A major irritant through the main show, however, is the blatant commercialism. It seems like every day we get subjected to increasingly fake enthusiasm about products being shilled. And of course, if you ever tune in to the YouTube version, be prepared for the visuals of various t-shirts and hats of various Armstrong-owned enterprises.

Naturally, I understand the need to finance the venture (and other podcasts also do similar, but not to the same extent). But I can’t help but think that there is no need for a YouTube version, or even to have a podcast studio in an Airstream trailer. A couple of mics on a kitchen table would give the same production value, at a fraction of the cost, and we could be spared the flagrant capitalism. (Typical over-branding example below)

Summary

Overall, it’s ok, but not great. There’s definitely a market for anything with Lance in it, but I’m not it. If I’ve time I’ll listen to some shows (especially if they have special guests on), but if pressed it’s the first cycling podcast I would skip during a GT. More Boswell please, and fewer ads!

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