The question has already been hotly debated at the Armstrong Ranch outside Austin, Texas: When will his son Luke, now 10 years old, be ready to win a major ProTour bike race?
“Realistically, Luke needs another 10 years. He’s doing light training but nothing more,” said Armstrong’s long time friend and director sportif Johan Bruyneel. “We did some tests on Alpe d’Huez just to see where he was at. The numbers are good but we must remember Luke is just a kid.”
With famous father Lance now officially double-retired, there’s a huge Armstrong void in American pro cycling. But the prospect of a second Armstrong on the horizon has plenty of people excited.
“Would we like to see Luke Armstrong ride the Tour of California? You bet we would,” said Amgen Tour of California organizer Andrew Messick. “Obviously, it’s premature to speculate or have those kinds of discussions. But Luke has a standing invitation when he’s ready.”
The possibility of Lance Armstrong’s son dominating the Tour de France or even the one day classics is not out of the realm of possibility according to close friends and associates.
“Luke is just like his dad,” said George Hincapie, who rode many a Tour with Lance. “He’s competitive as hell — he beat me in Crazy Eights, the Super Mario Brawl video game and he’s got a mean kick already. I’ve seen him jump over Lance’s Porsche with a trick bike.”
A source at the Quiznos Pro Challenge stage race in Colorado said the recent $10 million dollar investment was in part to ensure the race was still in existence when Luke Armstrong turns pro. “That was part of the deal they cut with Lance — keep the race going until Luke is competitive,” said the undisclosed source.
Still, it’s not easy waiting and ten years is a long way away. Is dad thinking about a second comeback to cover the gap? “That’s the only thing that would bring Lance back,” said Michele Ferrari, his former coach. “It’s that rough transition time while Luke gets up to speed. Look at Phinney — he’s not ready, now he has a concussion, is he the next great American rider? I put my money on Luke.”
If the rumors have any credence, the Luke Armstrong project is well under way. “He’s been in the wind tunnel. Now’s the time to perfect an aerodynamic time trial position. When they’re this young, there’s no bad habits to break,” said Trek rep Daniel Bartowski. “Just like Lance, Luke wants it perfect or else.”
The fact is, Luke Armstrong has more athletic resources at his disposal then any ten year old athlete in the world. “Look, he’s got Nike, Trek, Oakley and Livestrong behind him,” said Jake Rodriguez at Nike. “And I can tell you, all those Honey Stinger waffles are already having a huge effect.”
The final word on LA, the Second Coming, possible Tour de France winner in 2025 comes from Johan Bruyneel: “I can tell you this — Contador, Shleck — at 10 years old, they weren’t half the rider that Luke is.”