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 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 the 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.
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.
“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 Josh Mortensen, age group competitor from nearby Eden, Utah 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.”
“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.”
The appearance of Lance certainly makes things very different and we look forward to having him on the start line. With a record entry for both the championship and open races, it will be an exciting weekend.
"Having an elite athlete like Lance compete will certainly heighten the awareness of the event as it is viewed on national television throughout the year," said Jeff Robbins, president & CEO of the Utah Sports Commission. "It will highlight Utah's beauty and showcase one of Utah's Olympic and world class venues, Snowbasin Resort, and visitors traveling to participate in the event will bring an estimated $4 million in economic impact to the state."
The XTERRA Trail Run National Championship will make its way to Snowbasin Resort for the first time in the event’s history on Sept. 25. The XTERRA Trail Run National Championship is being held one day after the XTERRA USA Championship off-road triathlon, and some of the professional triathletes are expected to enter the trail run, including Josiah Middaugh – who is considered one of the fastest trail runners on the XTERRA triathlon circuit. Runners from across the country will gather on the picturesque 21-kilometer trail off the Snowbasin Resort to determine XTERRA’s national champions of trail running for 2011.