Update: Aug. 15 — Armstrong battles hills, flat tire and crowds at Leadville 100
Lance Armstrong's career has taken a sharp turn from the road-bike to mountain-bike podium finishes in the past two weeks. He won the Blast the Mass championship at Snowmass on Saturday, just two weeks after finishing 3rd in the Tour de France.
His next big mountain bike challenge comes next Saturday for the Leadville 100. He'll be seeking to unseat six-time champion David Wiens, who beat him last year.
The 23-mile course that Armstrong raced on Saturday had nearly 4,700 feet of climbing. Here's how his closest challenger, Mountain States Cup points leader Jay Henry, explained the race to the Aspen Times:
“Man, he's riding strong. There was no way I was going to catch him,” Henry said. “That first climb looked effortless. … We were together for that first road climb, then we rounded a corner and he was gone. I thought he had turned around. … At some point he put in some acceleration.
“I wish I could've seen it.”
The Snowmass Village race is the Cross Country Colorado State Championship. As winner, Armstrong got to don that jersey after the race.
The next race on the ticket is Leadville Trail 100, which Armstrong lost to Wiens in a hard-fought duel last year. Armstrong, who at that point still hadn't come out of his 3-year retirement, lost to Wiens by 2 minutes. They both set the course record, however, and beat the third-place finisher by a half-hour.
The entire 100-mile bike race takes place above the 9,000-foot elevation mark. It starts in Leadville at about 10,200 feet and tops out at Columbine Mine at 12,600 feet.
It will be interesting to see how six months of road racing, including two Grand Tours, have prepared Armstrong for this mountain biking challenge.
Webcasts of the race will be broadcast on the Leadville 100 website. Check here for details.