Fans of the Leadville 100 mountain bike race may be happy or sad to hear the news that Lance Armstrong has pulled out of this year’s race, citing a slow to recover hip injury as the reason for his withdrawal. Considering how the seven-time Tour de France winner obliterated the field, not to mention the course record, last year, his exit may open the door up for someone else to win. Then again, it may just might allow six-time champ Dave Wiens to recapture his crown, taken by Armstrong in 2009.
The race is, not surprisingly, a 100 mile ride along a very tough trail through the Rocky Mountains. It begins, and ends, in the town of Leadville, which sits at 10,500 feet. Over the course of the 100 miles, 50 out and 50 back, competitors gain an additional 2000 feet. Altitude plays a huge factor in how riders perform in this mountain bike race.
In 2008, Armstrong rode in the race for the first time, before he announced his comeback, and took second place, losing to Wiens in the final miles of the ride. Last year it was a completely different story however, as an in-shape Armstrong set a course record of 6 hours, 28 minutes, and 50 seconds. Lance was so dominating that he rode the final 65-miles without any other riders around him at all.
In last month’s Tour de France, Armstrong crashed, injuring a hip. That crash effectively ended his Tour aspirations and apparently they’ll keep him from racing in the Leadville as well. Armstrong has also said that he will take the opportunity to spend some time with his kids, who will be returning to school in a few weeks as well.
With Lance off the roster, the national media is likely to leave the race alone, but now we’ll have to see if Wiens can regain his crown or if the past two years have allowed others to close the gap with him. Should be a great race.
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