Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lance Wins Leadville 100

Today was the second Summer Streets of the year, and though I was going to talk about that, let’s face it, about a million New Yorkers were there, and there’s even video documentation, so I’ll get on to more exciting--if somewhat predictable--news.

In his first race since the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong won the Leadville 100 today, setting a new course record. For those of you who don't know, Leadville is a little mining town in Colorado which hosts an epic mountain bike race and ultra-marathon each year, each of which covers--as the name suggests--100 miles. Last year, Lance got "off the couch" and onto a bike to race competitively for the first time in years. He came in second to David Wiens, a "retired" mountain bike racer who's something of a local hero.

Today, Lance returned after a couple of "training camps" in France and Italy. He rolled into the win with a flat back tire thirty-minutes ahead of Wiens, beating the Coloradan's 2008 record by 17 minutes.

Now, given the fact that Lance spent three weeks in July riding a bike for five hours a day, this isn't too shocking, but I've been frustrated by people's responses to Lance's win. First, people have been suggesting that it was inappropriate of him to enter a race that's largely dominated by armatures. To those, I'd like to point out that when Lance entered the race last year, he hadn't been racing for four years. He practically was, as Weins went on to suggest, "right off the couch," and he didn't really even train for it. Considering that Floyd Landis had been there the year before, it seemed like fair game. It's only natural that he'd want to take a second stab at it--particularly since he's in better shape--this year.

Second, people seem to think that Armstrong's victory detracts from Wiens' accomplishments, or from Leadville. To the second part, I disagree: it's good that Lance and other celebrities are going to Leadville. As race organizers are quick to point out, the whole point of the Leadville 100 was to bring money into the town after it was hit hard by the mining depression in the eighties. Having big riders in Leadville brings a lot of publicity, increasing tourism and race and town sponsership. To the first part (about Wiens' legacy), I'd argue that Wiens' status as a baller is pretty indisputable. He's won six times, for God's sakes, and rode better today than anyone but Lance. At forty-four--seven years over the ancient Armstrong--I'd say he's doing pretty well.

In the women's division, endurance athlete Rebecca Rusch rolled in at a very impressive 8 hours and 15 minutes, eighteen minutes ahead of second-placer Amanda Carey.

On a less cheerful note, it seems that Fatty--the whole reason I started following Leadville in the first place--took a bad spill and didn't finish. It's really too bad, particularly given the month he's had, but at least he wasn't injured worse.

Anyways, I'm pretty beat and am going to head to bed. Maybe I'll edit the ending of this post tomorrow so it isn't quite so lame. Or maybe not.

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