The Alpine Odyssey mountain bike race, a qualifier for the Leadville 100, may feature one of the most intriguing and unexpected battles of the year. Lance Armstrong versus United States Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart.
According to at least one source, the man who banned Armstrong and plans to strip his seven Tour de France titles will race the 100K mountain bike event. “He heard Lance was racing and I think he wants to go man to man,” said Randy Hoks, an organizer for the Alpine Odyssey. “After all that lawyer stuff, Travis wants to kick Lance’s butt.”
Given the animosity between Armstrong and Tygart, the matchup is almost sure to attract the attention of the fans and media and raise the profile of the race. “Are we excited, yes, we certainly are,” said Hoks. “This is like Yankees and Dodgers, Frazier against Ali. This could be mythic.”
While banned from all events that are signatories to the WADA code, Armstrong is free to enter the Colorado race because it isn’t sanctioned by the federation. Armstrong has yet to issue any statement regarding Tygart’s participation but a mechanic at Mellow Johnny’s in Austin, Texas predicted all out war. “He is gonna kill Tygart. Make his suffer like a dog, make him cry like a baby,” said Ryan Fibbs. “I mean, seriously, Tygart better bring some bodyguards.”
Tygart’s fitness level and bike handling skills are an unknown factor. The Alpine Odyssey is a demanding 100k race with two 2,000 foot climbs up Mount Baldy. Still, there’s no questioning the drive and aggressiveness of Tygart, who was on Armstrong’s trail for several years. Now it appears he will pursue him up the rocky trails of Crested Butte this Sunday.
“Do not count Travis out. Look what he did to Lance’s lawyers — he destroyed them. Nobody’s ever done that,” said Andrew Willets, who went to law school with Tygart. “Now, he is gonna break Lance down in the worst, most embarrassing way — on the bike. He wants total submission. If Travis puts on a race number, then you know he’s ready.”
No matter who wins, the battle is sure to pull in a huge audience and race organizers expect the turnout to break all attendance records. “In the end, it’s what people wanted all along,” said Hoks. “Like Lance said, ‘Enough is enough’ so lets just settle this out on the bike. No more of this lawyer crap. Props to Tygart for not backing down.”