Sheryl Crow Said Breaking Up With Lance Armstrong Was "Like a Death"

“I can’t be angry at Lance for being who he is.”

Sheryl Crow, Lance Armstrong
Sheryl Crow, Lance Armstrong. Photo: KMazur/WireImage

Who: Former pro cyclist and 7-time Tour de France champion (he's since been stripped of his titles) Lance Armstrong, 49, and 9-time Grammy-winning musician Sheryl Crow, 59.

How They Met: Armstrong and Crow met the way wealthy famous people often do, at a charity event. Their paths crossed in October 2003 and Crow told People that she "knew pretty quickly that I was totally into him."

Less than two years later, Armstrong proposed in a manner befitting The Notebook. The cyclist popped the question during a trip to Sun Valley, Idaho … in the middle of a lake.

"We took this boat out to the middle of the lake, and this is one of these little fishing boats with the motor behind going," Armstrong told Oprah Winfrey. "It ran out of gas in the middle of the lake, and so I thought, you know, we're stuck here. I may as well ask her now."

Though he didn't have the ring on him at the time, he compensated for the spontaneity with a 6-carat cushion-cut diamond.

TBT: Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for GQ

Why We Loved Them: They were hot and in love (and never left home without a Livestrong bracelet), and they wanted you to know (we did, by the way). Courtside canoodling! Red carpet make outs! The PDA was bold and … long-winded? Following Armstrong's 2004 Tour de France win, the couple shared a kiss that a French journalist described as "fiery, impetuous and nearly unending." I mean, between a professional singer and professional athlete, we imagine the combined lung capacity was above average!

TBT: Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong
Vince Bucci/Getty Images
TBT: Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong
Kevin Mazur/WireImage for INTERSCOPE RECORDS
TBT: Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong
David Livingston/Getty Images

When They Peaked:

Crow wasn't just committed to Armstrong, she was committed to his children as well. She told Rolling Stone that the title track on her Wildflower album was inspired by Armstrong and his three kids (Luke, 21, and twins Isabelle and Grace, 19).

"It's kind of a reminder, particularly when you look at his young children, how they gravitate to goodness and to light," she explained. "The idea of the song is that no matter how chaotic it is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere."

Of Armstrong's kids, she told Entertainment Weekly, "I love them as much as if they were my own."

Crow drew inspiration from Armstrong's career, too. She called the Tour de France "one of the most inspiring events I've been involved in."

The Breakup:

Less than six months after Armstrong's romantic proposal, the couple split. In February 2006 Armstrong and Crow released a joint statement regarding their surprise breakup.

"After much thought and consideration we have made a very tough decision to split up," the statement read. "We both have a deep love and respect for each other and we ask that everyone respect our privacy during this very difficult time."

TBT: Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage for The Recording Academy

Adding to the tabloid drama of the split, Crow announced that she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer mere weeks later. Many were quick to speculate that Armstrong had left her amid the diagnosis, a theory Crow herself debunked in an interview with Good Morning America.

"We really loved each other a lot, and still love each other a lot," she insisted. And though she wouldn't name a reason for the breakup, she told host Diane Sawyer that she couldn't "be angry at Lance for being who he is."

"You know, he's a great person and it's his life, too … It's about what he wants and it's about what I want. And where the two don't meet, there's definitely a, you know, a fissure."

"It is like a death," she said of the breakup. "And in many ways it's like having part of your life amputated, but you still have that phantom itch, you know, where you wake up and I'll see something and think, 'Oh, I've got to make sure Lance is hip to this band. I've got to put it on his iPod.' And then I remember, 'Oh, wait, you know, that's not my life.'"

In a 2008 interview with Glamour, Crow (who'd been engaged three times) responded to the journalist's suggestion that she "secretly" didn't want to be married. "There are definitely reasons as to why I'm not married," she said. "And I think a large part of it is due to the fact that I pick people who don't want to get married."

TBT: Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong
Chris Polk/FilmMagic

The couple even poked fun at Armstrong's reluctance to set a wedding date during the cyclist's Saturday Night Live monologue in October 2005.

In 2008 Armstrong told Men's Journal that he'd "made a mistake to let the public into my relationship with Sheryl."

"It put a lot of pressure on the relationship, and I will never do it again," he went on, noting that he'd make exceptions for events wherein he was directly supporting his partner by attending. "But sitting down and doing a bunch of photos, like I did with Sheryl, is just wrong, and I won't do that again."

Armstrong went on to spell out the reason for his and Crow's split in his book, Lance, telling author John Wilcockson that he and Crow were "up against her biological clock."

"She wanted marriage, she wanted children; and not that I didn't want that, but I didn't want that at that time because I had just gotten out of a marriage, I'd just had kids," he said. "Yet, we're up against her biological clock - that pressure is what cracked it."

When Armstrong admitted to doping throughout his career in 2013, Crow was asked for her opinion (again and again). Though she often gave canned responses ("the truth with set you free"), Crow ultimately let her feelings be known during a Rolling Stone interview in late 2013.

TBT: Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong
Vince Bucci/Getty Images

"It probably sounds really insulting, but this is one of those I-don't-give-a-fuck moments: I don't think about him," she said. "It's a nuisance when I'm asked about him, because they weren't the happiest of days. People still attach me to him, and it's gross."

She did, however, later tell Good Housekeeping that she'd made herself "really small" next to Armstong while they were together.

In 2017 Armstrong called his relationship with Crow "a good ride," telling Howard Stern that his ex is a "great lady."

"It's tough to pull it off," he said of being in a highly publicized relationship. "But she was a great partner."

Where They Are Now:

Armstrong has been linked to Move with Anna founder Anna Petersen since 2008. The pair, who announced their engagement in 2017, share son Max, 12, and daughter Olivia, 10.

Crow adopted son Wyatt in 2007 and son Levi in 2010.

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