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Not really a Lance fanboy but no one has him being the sharp end of the stick.....I'd honestly be surprised if he isnt top two. In one of the events he's going to surprise folks, probably the other two he'll merely meet expectations. My money is on him doing something special (for him) in the run. Guy is fit, fast and a fierce competitor even in mini golf (or so I hear). I guess we will see soon enough,
I imagine 24:30-2:09:00-1:18:00 with the rest in transitions.
Would it rattle the pros and put a little fear in the mix?
It would be a sad indictment on the quality of professional triathletes racing today if he comes out and starts winning from the gate. I do not see it happening, though.
So says Chrissie Wellington...
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." ~Anne Frank
My FIRST experience with Lance, without Lance, was as a 13 year old passenger in my dad's old BMW Bavaria driving from Missoula, MT to a race in Spokane, WA. A few local Montana guys in their early 20's had convinced my dad that if he loaned them his car, that they would take me to Washington for this 4 stage, 3 day race. They didn't have any other way to get there and my dad couldn't take the weekend off work to drive me, so the deal was sealed. In our car were myself, Brink Kuchenbroad (a Montana all-star rider for years), Jason Van Marle (a Montana guy who later turned pro for 4-5 years) and Levi Leipheimer. I was friends with Jason and Brink, and I barely knew Levi. I remember just before we left somebody got the call that Lance Armstrong had won the 1993 World Championships Road Race. An unheard of feat for a 21 year old in his first season as a European professional. I could tell this result struck a deep chord in Jason and Levi, who were both extremely motivated to make it to the top of cycling and at the time hadn't made it very far...
I raced with Lance when I was a Junior National Team Cyclist, as a 16 year old in 1996 at Superweek in Wisconsin. I think he was 25 maybe. Lance had dropped out of the Tour de France with "health problems" which would later be diagnosed as cancer, and he wanted to race before the Olympic Games. He and Kevin Livingston from Team Motorola came and raced a few days of Superweek because he wanted some racing before the Atlanta Olympics. He was impressive, I remember one stage he and Horner broke away from our group of maybe 20 and rode the last 20 miles as a duo, he beat Horner in the 2-up sprint and at that time, they were both considered to be VERY fast sprinters. Not field sprinters, but certainly guys who would win from groups who would make selections over smaller climbs. He went on to have a frustrating Olympic road race and placed 6th maybe in the TT in Atlanta? Not bad for a guy three weeks out from a life-threatening cancer diagnoses.
Two years later, I was a member of the US Junior World Championship Team in Holland. The US Team all stayed together in the same hotel. (Juniors, Pros, U-23's, Women) Lance was there, we ate together a few times. As an impressionable 18 year-old it was a pretty amazing experience. Remember, at this time he wasn't a 7-Time Tour Winner, or even a Tour winner, but for an up-and-coming US cyclists he was pretty much God. He was also everything people had said; intense, motivated, witty, charming, and now a cancer survivor having just returned to the highest level in cycling. There is no doubt in my mind he had that special "aura" to him that can only be described by seeing it. His final result the week before in the Vuelta de Espana showed that for the first time in his career, not just in his comeback, he was showing strength in a Grand Tour. He was climbing and time trialing with the best of them and I really noticed while out riding a couple of times how he was visibly 15-20 pounds lighter than the Lance I rode with two years before. He wasn't really a house-hold name in the US yet, but those of us deeply involved in cycling knew that this guy may now one day win the Tour de France. I believe in that World Champs he placed 4th in the road race and 4th in the TT. My mom was sick with cancer at that time, and she came and watched me race there in part because Lance was racing. So I have both sides covered, in that I experienced him from a racing stand-point and how that influenced me, and also from a cancer-family stand-point knowing the hope and inspiration that he gave my mother and our family during her battle with cancer. It really was an amazing thing!
So he goes on to win 7 Tours, I go on to do not too much, I've raced pro triathlon the last ten years with variable levels of success, nothing too amazing. Anyway, it was cool lining up with him at the Urban Dirt Tri last fall as the only other "pro" in the field. Lance looked pretty big to me, maybe pre-cancer bike racing Lance plus 5 pounds? It was hard to say. My hope was that being a decent mountain biker, if I could exit the water close then draft off of him on the road sections (drafting is legal in mountain bike triathlons) for at least the first half of the bike, and not lose too much time in the second. Perhaps off the bike, having not lost too much time I could out-run him. Seeing him race morning, coming from someone who has watched him closely his whole career, I seriously felt like I had chance. LOL
On the swim, he took off with Mike Melley, Mike swam a 4:24 500 in college, or something like that, I'm not a terrible swimmer, I've gone 24:28 at Wildflower Half, close to 50 in IM swims, and this was only 800 meters. I lost a minute.... Onto the bike, again, I'm solid on the MTB, I had just gone 6:43 and placed 2nd overall at Barn Burner, a small 104 mile mountain bike race with maybe 10 pros, but still, I'm not Lance but certainly proficient on the MTB. Lance blew me away, every split i got I rode harder and harder and was still losing gobs of time. In the end he outsplit by almost 3 minutes I believe, or maybe just under, I think he rode 46 and I rode 49 (minutes). I hit the run 4 minutes back, tired, but thinking I could run a 16:30 5k on this technical course and perhaps pull back 90 seconds and keep it from being embarrassing. I felt like I had a decent run, and in the end we ran about exactly the same time, I think he even out-ran me by a few seconds. This part was really surprising to me because like you guys I saw his Boston/NYC marathon times, and I've seen his running style isn't the most graceful. Also, I've gone 1:09 recently in a Rock n Roll half off the couch, I figure I could probably go 1:06-1:07 in a flat half marathon if I worked at it a little and tapered down, so CERTAINLY I was sure I would out-run him. Not the case.
I think now Lance has put together a few months of good training, has lost weight, upped his mileage, and unlike in the fall is actually taking the racing seriously. I believe his crash at Xterrra Worlds affected his run badly, in fact I don't think he even ran hard there because his times didn't add up. His 5th in Ogden at Xterra Nationals was what I believe was similar to his 2nd at Leadville a few years back, which for Lance was an off the couch result which was out of shape Lance and just for fun.
He's physically and mentally superior IMHO to anyone who has ever competed in endurance sports, I think he's probably more suited to cycling than triathlon, but just barely, and I think he's not "OLD" yet being about the same age as Chris Lieto and not much older than Crowie or Macca. Don't underestimate him, I can tell you none of the pros are. One big advantage he has over most of the other guys is endless resources. I can tell you that most pros are on their own for many of the logistics that go into racing an International event like the one down in Panama. Flying charter, having a physical therapist, mechanic, driver, all those things, it's certainly worth a couple percent. Those are my two cents, he may win or may not, but I wouldn't bet against him short or long-term if he decides to be serious about triathlon.
As far as pro cyclists doping, I have no idea. Of course it was big into cycling but I never did it and I didn't see too many people do it. Lance is a ridiculous talent whether he did or didn't, and as far as whether he is now for triathlon? Zero percent chance.
Lance says,"So dude, I ran to my bike after the swim and was putting my second shoe on and some older lady was leaning over the transition fence SCREEEEAMING at me saying,"Lewis is going CATCH YOU, Lewis is going to CATCH YOU, Lewis is going to CATCH YOU!!!!!" So as I was getting on my bike I just turned around and looked at her and said,"NO HE'S NOT!"
I still wonder who that lady was....
Excellent post, amd great to get some personal insight. The only thing I'd disagree with is the physical superiority.
The thing that really should be highlighted though, well, I highlighted it. He's talked openly about the advantage he has in having a team on call for everything. Of course, that's not something that comes up in most of these discussions. That's why I'm still rooting for the established pros, because they don't have his resources.
http://ironvision.blogspot.com ; @drSteve1663