Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will race at the XTERRA USA Championship triathlon on Saturday, Sept. 24 at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah - his first Tri in more than 20 years.
Armstrong tweeted his intentions this morning and an Associated Press article confirmed the wide-spread speculation shortly after, setting off a flurry of action on social media sites around the world.
“I'm going out 2 have a good time, enjoy the course, & support the event,” said Armstrong.
While the buzz hit frenetic levels with today’s news, the “rumors” of a possible Armstrong appearance started slowly in the jungles of Japan when XTERRA World Champ Conrad “the Caveman” Stoltz was in Marunuma for XTERRA in late August.
“I got a tweet from Armstrong about training and at first I thought it was a joke because I’d never talked to him before,” said Stoltz, who embraced the news saying “I think it’ll be great for the sport and I’m really excited to race against him” in an interview with Triathlete Magazine today.
The hype intensified when Armstrong posted a profile to his twitter account last Wednesday of a pre-ride he did on the XTERRA USA Championship course at Snowbasin, a brand new route that had just been approved for use by the US Forest Service.
“We had literally just got clearance and made the decision to use the Sardine Peak trail for the USA course the day before Armstrong,” said Steve Andrus, the Snowbasin Resort sport event operations director who was tasked with showing Armstrong around.
In top right photo Andrus is pictured on Armstrong’s left, with Mike Caldwell, an Ogden mayoral candidate and former race director for the Ogden off-road tri he started in 2004, on his right, and age group competitor Josh Mortensen from nearby Eden, Utah on the far left.
“That was a cool experience. He was very inquisitive, wanted to know everything from tire choices to weather possibilities, elevation, trail conditions, other competitors, everything you could think of,” said Mortensen, who got to pre-ride with Armstrong, Caldwell, and 1996 XTERRA World Champion Jimmy Riccitello that day. “It was pretty humbling to have one of the best cyclists to ever walk the planet ask me questions like that, and then he would just take off … man can he haul.”
Now the big question is, “How will he do?”
“Lance coming to XTERRA is huge,” said XTERRA Managing Director Dave Nicholas. “In our kinds of sports he is an icon. We're flattered he chose us, but if he thinks it will be easy pickin's, he is in for a surprise. Our guys will not go silently into the night.”