(The Outer Line, in conjunction with KOM Sports Marketing, a long-time sports event organizer and marketing agency, is pleased to announce the new “Retrospectives” podcast, featuring talks with key historical cycling personalities and newsmakers. In this initial episode, KOM’s President Steve Brunner, interviews former pro racer Kevin Livingston, a key lieutenant for Lance Armstrong in his first two wins at the Tour de France. Future “where are they now” oriented episodes will include discussions with a wide variety of other cycling luminaries and notables from past years.)
At his peak, during the years around the turn of the 21st century, Kevin Livingston was perhaps the very definition of a “super-domestique.” Although he took few personal victories, he was a powerful rider and one of the top climbers in the peloton. He played a key support role in the early years of Lance Armstrong’s domination of the Tour de France, pacing his leader up some of the steepest and longest hills in Europe. If he was racing today, he would probably be the strongest American rider.
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His controversial jump to Telekom in 2001, where he joined Armstrong’s arch-rival Jan Ullrich, made waves and strained his relationship with the now defrocked American. As the dark details behind Armstrong’s remarkable run of success were gradually revealed, culminating in the 2012 USADA Reasoned Decision, most of Armstrong’s former colleagues gradually came forward, commenting publicly about the doping issues prevalent in the peloton during the years of the later 1990s and 2000s. Yet Kevin Livingston remained somehow almost totally below the radar – to some extent forgotten by the public, even though he was perhaps the key support player for Armstrong in the early years.
Now, for the first time, Livingston is speaking up about his time in cycling. Currently living in Texas and running his own coaching business, Livingston gives his perspective, talking about his career, his relationship with Armstrong, and making his first public comments about doping. He talks about his current interests and activities, his foray into ultimate fighting, and his new-found passion for fasting.
On the doping which occurred around the team at that time, Livingston says, “People give me credit and say ‘Hey, you were an awesome rider’ but I immediately think about the doping. Yeah, but there’s this big asterisk. You definitely can’t get around that, so, it’s definitely a black cloud over my own career… I remember the day of the Grand Jury, I said ‘How did it ever get to this point in my life. This is terrible. It was embarrassing. You do regret it. I did regret it. You regret your decisions but at the same time, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect… It’s my life. It’s part of my story… you can’t go back and fix that, but, you can learn from it.”
With respect to Armstrong, Livingston comments, “Let’s be honest. Of course, it (the relationship with Lance Armstrong) was strained. We’d had a real good relationship … and they (US Postal Service) had given me an offer, but I had goals too… let’s face it, Lance went on to win five more Tours, so (where would that have left me?).”
We’ve made the link available for the audio track only. Or, subscribe to the Apple podcast. Stay tuned for more introspective looks into some historical characters and luminaries of pro cycling from The Outer Line.