The cycling champ's former wife says she lost herself in Armstrong's shadow

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 09, 2006 04:50 PM

Lance Armstrong’s ex-wife, Kristin Richard, revealed to Oprah Winfrey on Tuesday that the road she shared with the Tour de France record holder was far from smooth.

Although the 1999-2003 marriage produced three children before it ended in divorce, the union also left Richard feeling “smothered,” and turned her from an opinionated career person into a “yes” woman, Richard, 34, said on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

“You and Lance looked like you had it all,” said Winfrey, noting that Richard was swept off her feet by the stellar athlete, married him, had three children quickly and moved to the French Riviera. Richard, however, said that her role was strictly to cheer on Armstrong, prompting Winfrey to advise women not to make the same mistake.

“It wasn’t Lance saying, ‘You should be like this’ or ‘Do this.’ It wasn’t him making a mandate and me being a mouse. It was me trying to emulate whatever I thought would be the perfect wife or the perfect mother,” said Richard, promoting an article she’s written for the April Glamour magazine titled “What I Wish I Had Known About Marriage.”

“We think we’re trying to please somebody for the sake of our marriage, but then if you ask Lance today if he appreciated that, I think he would probably say, ‘Well, that wasn’t the woman that I fell in love with,'” added Richard.

As for first meeting Armstrong she said: “He had just finished up his chemotherapy. He was bald and cute.” But once they were married she surrendered her job and her dog, as well as her independence, said Richard, who admitted also to being blinded by the huge diamond ring Armstrong gave her when they got engaged.

“I paid more attention to the rock on my left hand than to preparing myself for the journey ahead,” Richard wrote in the article, which Winfrey said reduced her to tears. “This is why I never got married,” said Winfrey. “I just wanted to always be myself.”

Richard characterized her current relationship with her ex-husband as “good” – though “it’s taken work and effort,” she said.

As for her own life now, “I love God, my family, my friends, red wine, fireworks, going for a long, sweaty run, laughing until no sound comes out and taking my time,” she said.