Cache Cache owner Jodi Larner continues to stand up for her friend Lance Armstrong and said a media frenzy surrounding an alleged confrontation in her restaurant between the cycling legend and former teammate Tyler Hamilton — who has fingered Armstrong for doping — is overblown.
The two had a five-minute exchange at the bar at Cache Cache on Saturday night that Hamilton’s lawyers told federal authorities could constitute witness tampering. Hamilton has testified against Armstrong before a federal grand jury looking into allegations that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs during his record seven-straight Tour de France victories.
Larner said she knew Armstrong would be coming into the restaurant that night and gave him a heads up that Hamilton was eating dinner on the patio with a group. As a restaurant owner in a small town, she said she extends the same courtesy to divorcees when one is coming in and the other is already there.
Hamilton, a Boulder cyclist who has admitted to doping and gave up an Olympic gold medal, was in town for the Outside in Aspen event produced by Outside magazine and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, where he led cycling rides for participants. Armstrong owns a home here.
Around 10 p.m. on Saturday, Hamilton walked by Armstrong, who was sitting at the bar with Larner. Armstrong greeted Hamilton in a sarcastic manner. The two engaged in a brief conversation, which Larner said couldn’t be described as combative or heated. Armstrong never got off his barstool, she added.
After Hamilton returned to his table, the group failed to leave a tip on an $885 tab, Larner said. A manager ran after the group, and someone else from the table added a tip.
Still, “[Hamilton] doesn’t need to come back,” Larner said, citing her friendship with Armstrong and the distraction the incident has brought to her and her staff.
“I’m not comfortable with what’s going on and with some of the things that have been written,” she said.
Larner confirmed that an FBI agent called her to inquire about surveillance video that might have captured the exchange. But the only cameras in the restaurant are pointed at the kitchen and would not have recorded the encounter at the bar, she said.
Since the incident, which was originally reported the next day on Outside magazine’s website and has been picked up by outlets including the New York Times and ABC News, Larner said she has received numerous threatening messages, including phone calls and faxes. She also has received messages of support, she said.
ACRA President Debbie Braun acknowledged that the minor media frenzy that has sprung up around the incident is good exposure for the Outside event, which is in its second year.
“You can’t control what’s going to happen,” Braun said, noting other high-profile celebrity incidents that have happened in Aspen, such as the Charlie Sheen domestic violence case and situations of Donald Trump running into former wives.