Lance is a lightning rod. People either love him or hate him. With Lance, there’s no middle ground. One thing you CAN say about Lance though, is that he has re-ignited interest for cycling, for the Tour and the other races he does, namely the Leadville Trail 100.
The key feature of this 100 mile MTB race (aside from the fact that it is a 100 mile MTB race) is that the entire race course is above 10,000 feet elevation. So in addition to the difficulty of the distance and the race itself is the altitude, which for many riders is a complete “wild card.”
This race has been around for quite some time but its visibility has really increased in the last several years. Floyd Landis put the race “on the map” for the general public when he raced it in 2007 (to be beaten by 6-time champ David Wiens). Lance raced Leadville for the first time in 2008, and he also took 2nd to Wiens and all of a sudden, everyone knew about Leadville.
Shortly after the 2008 race, Lance announced his intentions to get back into the pro peloton and to race the 2009 Tour de France. So Leadville 2008 was the jumpstart to Lance’s return.
We all know about Lance’s 2009 season, including his 3rd place finish in the Tour. He also announced he would race Leadville again in 2009, so the race’s visibility increased exponentially.
Lance dethroned Dave Wiens in convincing fashion, crushing the field. Here’s a very cool video of Lance’s post-race awards speech:
Love him or hate him, Lance has done wonders for our sport and for the Leadville race! In fact, Hollywood has jumped on the Lance + Leadville story and made a movie, which comes out in late October. Here’s a link to the trailer. It looks very cool:
Lance is a lightning rod for admiration, for criticism and for publicity. He’s raised awareness (and millions of dollars) for cancer through his Livestrong Foundation (http://www.livestrong.org/), for the Leadville Trail 100’s “Race Across the Sky” (http://www.leadvilletrail100.com/). So love him or hate him, we should all say “Thank you“ to Lance.
Add your comments below, then GET OUT AND RIDE!