Lance Armstrong is not gunning for a podium spot in the Giro. Yes, the broken collarbone set him back but there’s another, more urgent reason why he’s not riding to win. He’s riding to save Astana. Lance needs to raise 2 million during the Giro to keep Astana afloat. That works out to roughly 100 grand for each stage. It won’t be easy but only a hard-riding fundraiser like Lance could pull it off.
Trek has even developed a special collection bag for Lance’s bike. “We’re pretty stoked about the design,” said Steve Willits. “Our calculations indicate that even with the oversize lira bills, it should easily hold a hundred grand.”
This is the 100th edition of the Giro with many great fund-raising possibilities. Some highlights:
Stage 1 Lido di Venezia (TTT)
A simple 20k down and back route that gives Lance ample opportunity to get donations from fans he missed on the way out.
Stage 5 San Martino di Castrozza – Alpe di Suisi
This should be a big pay day for Lance. 25 kilomoters of climbing with a 6% grade and a final ramp at an even steeper 8%. This reduced speed and the immense crowds of tifosi should allow Lance to pass the hat for at least $200,000. Watch for his domestiques running wads of cash back to the team car.
Stage 10 Cuneo – Pinerolo
The queen stage with a brutal climb up Sestriere. The Astana team will work hard to put Lance in the perfect fund-raising postion. Lance is a competitor and this should be an extrememly lucrative day for the cash-strapped Astana team. Look for a smiling Johan Bruyneel to make a big bank deposit at day’s end.
Stage 16 Perola – Monte Petrano
The Monte Nerone and Monte Catria climbs will definitly slow the race pace to a crawl. The ideal tempo for Lance to take charge and rake in the lira. A spokeman for the Astana camp said that Lance he will not be accepting coins. Carrying an extra 10 pounds in change throws off his power-to-weight ratio.
Levi Leipheimer is the protected rider but all other Astana teammates are working for Lance. The rouleurs will help Lance collect on the flat stages and when the GIro hits the mountains, climbers like Gusev and Kloden will be alongside to take donations and make change. Johan Bruyneel has two goals for this Giro: a pink jersey for Leipheimer and winning the competition for most financially solvent team. Knowing Lance, that 2 million is as good as banked.
This is an evolving story so stay tuned for details.