Armstrong back for Round 2
Ryan Summerlin March 17, 2009
When soon-to-be-the-king David slayed Goliath in 1 Samuel of the Old Testament, the people of Israel didn’t say, “Great job David, but would you mind doing that again next year?”
Well, that’s what’s being asked of Gunnison’s David Wiens this summer in the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race, as seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has officially entered the field for the second straight year.
Last summer, Wiens needed a course-record time of 6:45:45 to nip the cycling legend ” who was still “retired” at the time ” by a mere 2 minutes.
So, Wiens better get his slingshot, er, mountain bike, loaded up for Round 2.
“It’s going to be great,” race president Ken Chlouber said, noting that he’d received confirmation of Armstrong’s participation from his coach Chris Carmichael on Monday night.
The Leadville Trail 100, held on Aug. 15, is held on a grueling 50-mile, out-and-back course, starting and finishing in downtown Leadville at 10,200 ft elevation. Nicknamed “The Race Across the Sky,” the race has major climbs of 3,000-plus feet, with a total elevation change of nearly 14,000 feet.
As though the drama of a Wiens-Armstrong rematch in a 100-mile race isn’t enough, Chlouber said that Floyd Landis might join the field as well. Chlouber said that he has had discussions with Landis’ sponsors, and the outlook is pretty good for the embattled 2006 Tour de France winner to make a return to Leadville. Landis competed in the 2007 race, but lost out to Wiens.
In fact, everyone in the 1,000-plus field has lost to Wiens for the past six years. The mountain biking legend and local Leadville hero will be going for his seventh straight title this summer.
“I think that Armstrong’s got his work cut out for him,” Chlouber said. ” … I’m picking Wiens. You’ve always got to root for the homeboy.”
It’s a safe bet, although Armstrong will be only one month removed from racing in the Tour and has been in full-on training mode for the past few months as he’s attempting a comeback in competitive cycling.
“For us living in the mountains, it’s even more exciting. I think it’s the first time anyone has used the Tour de France to train for the Leadville 100,” Chlouber said with a laugh.
Excitement certainly will abound on race day. Last year’s race drew hordes of spectators, gripping the sidewalks of Leadville for a glimpse of Armstrong. Chlouber expects even more people to travel to Cloud City.
“It’s going to be way more than last year, because we only had a two week notification that (Armstrong) was coming,” he said. “This year, with every one already knowing, it’ll be great for us.”
All in all, it looks as though the 16th edition of the storied race might make for the most drama, which is exactly what Chlouber is looking for.
“We’ve always focused on the race being the best,” he said.
Bryce Evans can be reached at (970) 668-4634 or at email@example.com.
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