How Good is Lance Armstrong for the Sport of Triathlon?

Lance Armstrong is about to tackle his second ironman 70.3 at Galverston, Texas. The Memorial Hermann Ironman 70.3 triathlon has a stacked field and there will be a lot of reputations on the line. No one should feel that they haven’t measured up if beaten by Lance today. He is a sporting legend and does not take on a challenge without doing his homework and knowing how he will fare.

He showed the world that he is taking the sport seriously recently at his Ironman 70.3 debut in Panama. Many were ‘put in their box’ in Panama with only New Zealand’s Bevan Docherty saving the day.

The question of how the ‘Lance Armstrong Effect’ will benefit the sport was the topic of conversation between Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander and myself this week in Sydney. We were at the product launch of one of Crowie’s sponsors Jabra. (New wireless headphones which are very good by the way).

Crowie is of the mind that the sport will benefit from Lance Armstrong’s participation for at least 20 years. This was highlighted by an encounter Crowie had with an elderly couple while doing a course reckie in Melbourne in the days leading up to Ironman Melbourne.

Craig had pulled up to the side of the road with a mate and had his bikes on the top of the car. Keep in mind that Crowie is Australia, 3 times World Ironman Champion and was about to race in the biggest Ironman race in his home country.

While standing beside the car an elderly couple walked past and asked if he was doing the ‘race’ this wekend’ He said he was. They then asked if he had done many triathlons before. He said that he had. They then asked him if he had seen the triathlon in Panama that Lance Armstrong had come second in recently.

There are many stories going around the pro circuit both positive and negative about the ‘Lance Armstrong Effect’. There is no doubt that every pro triathlete will benefit from it. But at the same time there is serious racing going on with people racing for wages. Some stories going around have some of the leading guys not too happy about some of the conditions being placed on Lance racing.

Lance isn’t racing Ironman France because of the cheese and wine. He lived and trained on the bike course for years. He knows every inch of it and will use it to his advantage. Armstrong knew about 5 years ago that he would race Kona this year. He didn’t buy a place on the Queen Kaahumany Highway in Kailua-Kona because it is a nice place to take the family for a holiday.

Jimmy Riccitello is well acknowledged as one of Lance’s closest confidants. There is a video of Lance out training with Jimmy on the Queen K. Not many sportsman would head out to train with the head referee of their sports code. Lance training on the Queen K. This has raised a few eyebrows.

The is no doubt that the live TV coverage that will be taking place in Kona this year is welcomed by all. But will the TV camera car that is supposed to be covering Lance for the live coverage provide Lance with an unfair advantage. It is well known that back in the days when the TV cars were out on the course in the pro series in the US whoever got to the car first could get upwards of five minutes advantage over his competitors. Especially on the downhill sections.

In Ironman France there are rumours of Lance requesting at least four Gendarmes to acompany him on the bike course to protect him against the French who are well known in their dislike for him. I can only imagine how this will go down with the defending champion Frederick Van Leirde.

All said and done I think we speak on behalf of all triathletes when we say that Lance Armstong is good for the sport and we welcome you in to it again and applaud you for deciding to make it your next profession.

Bring it on!


Karl Hayes

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.