The first day of the 2008 Interbike Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada ended with a men’s and women’s cyclo-cross race located in a park a few miles off the Vegas Strip.
When I first showed up at the event, the women’s race was already underway. The riders were pedaling on grass, flying over concrete sidewalks, jumping over hurdles, twisting around sharp corners and climbing up steep angled slopes. I’ve never attended a cyclo-cross race before, so all of this was quite a sight!
When the women’s race was over, it was announced that Lance Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, would be joining the men’s race – competing against some of the best cyclo-cross racers in the world.
A huge crowd formed as Lance appeared near the starting gate and the announcer called him to the line. Lights flashed and the crowd roared. If it weren’t for his yellow and black LAF (Lance Armstrong Foundation) jersey, he’d look like any of the other riders on the course – an ultra fit athlete dressed in lycra preparing for 10 laps of cyclo-cross hell.
At the start of the race, Lance held his position well. After a lap or two he was leading the second large group of riders. He wasn’t at the head of the pack, but was still near the front of the race.
Then, a sudden crash around a sharp and slippery corner caused Armstrong to go down. The crash was documented by a spectator here:
In the end, Armstrong finished minutes behind the lead riders. Besides his crash midway through the race, there wasn’t much to write home about. Even in the end, as the riders sprinted to the finish line, Armstrong allowed his competitors to pass. Armstrong finished 22nd. You can see the race results here.
While the race was far from a victory for Armstrong, it was indeed an exciting event. Not many people get a chance to see someone of Armstrong’s caliber ever race. And, for me, to see him in a cyclo-cross race of all things, is even more special.
Below you can see both my footage and the footage of others who were in attendance as Lance Armstrong challenged some of the best cyclo-cross races in the world at the 2008 Cross Vegas cyclo-cross bicycle race.