Surprise! Lance Armstrong wins another race

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenAugust 2, 2011
In a conversation with Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson on Thursday evening, Lance Armstrong told a story about how someone recently tweeted a question to him: What rides do you like in Aspen?

“The flat ones,” he joked.

The cycling great claimed he is swimming more than he is riding bikes these days. “Bike riding is hard,” he laughed.

Flash-forward fewer than 72 hours later and there was Armstrong on a mountain bike, crossing the finish line first at the 63-mile Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey with a time of 4:32:21. He beat Greg Krause of Littleton, Colo., by three seconds. The course included a traverse across a 200-yard snowfield and more than 7,500 feet of vertical climbing.

The seven-time Tour de France champion was a last-minute entry in the small-town, big-elevation race Sunday morning. Organizers didn't know Armstrong would compete until the night before when they read it on Twitter.

The part-time Aspen resident returned to his computer later that day.

Lance Armstrong in Aspen on Thursday evening.

"Helluva fun ride today in CB for the @ltrail100 qualifier. Beautiful course. Squeaked out a 'W' somehow. Full body cramp at the end,” Armstrong wrote.

The next day, the surprise winner returned to tweet: “I now feel like I've been run over by a truck.”

Instead of tweeting, Armstrong was speaking at the Aspen Institute a few days earlier about his life in Colorado.

“There are few places in the world we can never re-create, whether it's New York City or a place like Paris. There are just a handful of them and Aspen is one of them. You can never re-create this,” he said. “I was not born here and I was not raised here but I got here as quick as I could.”

Armstrong, who also lives in Austin, Texas, said “we have good riding here.” But “it's not the hardest.”

Discussing the Cottonwood and Independence passes that the USA Pro Cycling Challenge will traverse Aug 4., Armstrong said they are different but just as difficult as the famous climbs in the Tour de France and European races.

“Independence Pass is hard because of the elevation. … The Alps are twice as steep but they start much lower.

"So pick your poison,” he said.

Despite the fact that he came up with the idea of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Armstrong will not compete in it. Instead, he and his family will be spectators in Aspen when the tour rolls through this biggest of little cities.

Armstrong's win Sunday in Crested Butte qualifies him for the Leadville Trail 100 on Aug. 13. After winning that high-endurance race in 2009 and placing second the first year he ever participated in it the year before, the inspirational cancer survivor took last year off citing a lingering hip injury and a desire to be with his family.

Will he race this year?

Tune in to Twitter.

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