The cycling world this week lapped up the latest twist in the ongoing
Lance Armstrong saga, which seemingly sunk to new levels of twisted depravity in
an Aspen eaterie.
Details are sketchy, and, if you believe everything you read, can
be summed up in an around-about way thus: Tyler Hamilton and Armstrong find
themselves in the same restaurant, which just happens to be owned by one of
Lance's biggest fans; the pair almost come to blows; LA threatens Hamilton with
a string of expletives; a heckled Hamilton is ejected for not leaving a tip and
making lewd and suggestive gesticulations in view of staff; press have a field
day rummaging through hearsay and PR waffle.
But the truth is, nobody really knows what happened in Lance's
favourite American-French restaurant - least of all the hacks who have written
about it and, for that matter, the various attorneys and lawyers representing
the two men involved.
Nobody has come forward with a definitive version of events -
You see, believe it or not, but Saddles was in that same restaurant
that very night; in fact he was sitting a bike's length away from both men when
the "run-in" occurred - and so what you are about to hear is
first-hand evidence which would stand up in a federal court of law (were it
You see, good old BS has been holidaying in Aspen for years now.
Cache Cache is like a second kitchen to him; he was going here long before
Armstrong even wore the rainbow jersey as world road race champion - a time
when the Texan still thought a Maillot Jaune was the French way of cooking an
If Lance and Cache Cache owner Jodi Larner are best buddies, then
that must make Saddles almost family.
So, here's what actually happened - but be warned, it's hardly
Hamilton was eating at a table with some friends in the corner of
the room. Apparently he ordered a braised shoulder of lamb with a duo of green
vegetables. Armstrong entered the restaurant and sat at the bar, perusing a
The two men first came together when Tyler got up to go to the
restroom and had to squeeze through the gap between Armstrong's stool at the
bar and Saddles' table.
"Hey, what's up?" asked Lance.
"Hi Lance, I'm good, thanks for asking," Tyler replied.
"The food is great here, don't you think?"
"Yeah, you gotta believe it. But beware of the duck,"
Lance said. "The duck will destroy you. It will tear you apart and make
your fitness bland. If you have the duck, it will make your life a living
"Gee, thanks for the tip," said Tyler, before awkwardly
shuffling to the toilet (you see, he was bursting for the men's room by now).
Lance then ordered himself his favourite dish: slow-cooked wild
boar left to simmer in its own juices.
Returning from the loo, Tyler asked Lance what he had ordered. On
hearing the description of the dish, Hamilton asked his old team-mate what
Saddles deemed as quite a legitimate question: "How long is it cooked for?"
"60 minutes," came the reply.
The pair then had a little discussion about Armstrong's latest
project: a play he's penning about a day in the life of one of his Livestrong
Armstrong said he was thinking about setting part of the play -
where two characters have an angry confrontation - in Cache Cache. "But
the thing is, I'm not sure there's a scene to be had in this restaurant.
Certainly not a hostile one," he mused.
For his part, Hamilton admitted that he had taken a job as a
restaurant critic because things were drying up for him in the cycling world.
The two men parted, just after Armstrong had stretched his hand
over and removed a bit of breadstick stuck on the front of Hamilton's jumper.
Half an hour later, Hamilton and his group settled the bill. There
was a slight scene when one of Hamilton's friends had tried to chat up the
waitress but then, on seeing she was married, refused to tip his cap towards
her husband sitting on the other side of the room. Nothing hefty.
On the way out, Lance put his arm out and stopped Hamilton.
"Hey, just one more thing," he said before leaning over and adding in
a hushed voice that only Saddles could hear: "How much did they pay
"What do you mean?" replied Hamilton.
"Your editors - how much did they pay you to do this
"Ah, I see. Nothing at all - I do it for free," said
Hamilton. "It's good publicity, what with the book coming out and all
While he was saying this, the restaurant's huge Newfoundland dog -
named The Incident after a former wrestler on the WWF franchise - stepped out
When Tyler turned round, he jumped in surprise, before
regaining his composure and exiting after a truly uneventful evening.
Saddles can confirm, then, that Hamilton was indeed left profoundly
shaken by The Incident.
- Tyler Hamilton