Out with Lance, in with Jan.
USA Cycling announced Thursday that Lance Armstrong may not ride his buddy George Hincapie’s gran fondo, stating that under the WADA code, his lifetime ban prevents him from riding the USA Cycling-sanctioned “non-competitive” event.
Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles because of doping, had planned a U.S. Postal team reunion of sorts by riding the event with Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, and Kevin Livingston.
However, with Armstrong’s participation caught up in doubt and controversy, Hincapie has extend an invitation to Armstrong’s old Tour rival Jan Ullrich.
“Yeah, George, was hopping for a nostalgia vibe, the good old days in France, but if Lance can’t make it, why not settle for Jan?” said gran fondo spokesman Rick Fibberino. “The guys wanna tell stories and Jan sure has a lot of good ones from those Tours.”
Ullrich himself is already on record as saying he’s all in. “Yeah, sure, why not?” said Ullrich. “I even tried to get Vino to join us but he’s got his problems right now at Astana. Still, I’m going give those Posties the butt-kicking they deserve.”
Whether Ullrich, famous for his battles with weight, is in shape to ride the Hincapie fondo is not known but Fibberino believes there’s still time for Ullrich to arrive in top shape. “George is ready to rock, Christian and Kevin, too. So, no question, Jan might need to do a day-long fast and jump on the plane. Show is Saturday.”
Organizers are confident Ullrich will ride the Hincapie gran fondo and have pre-registered him for the 80 mile route which includes a haul up Syuka Mountain road. “Kevin had an old Telekom bike in his garage — he rode for them for a year — so Jan will be riding in style,” said Fibberino. “I know George and the guys are digging out their old Postal kits. Should be a blast.”
While the behind-the-scenes legal wrangling between Armstrong and USA Cycling continues, the Gran Fondo Hincapie will have some Tour star power. The Boss may be out but Der Kaiser is in.