The 2007 edition of the Leadville Trail 100 may turn out to be a battle of former teammates and Tour de France winners Floyd Landis and Lance Armstrong. Earlier this week, Landis said he would compete in the race after accepting an invitation from race director Ken Chlouber, who spoke with Cyclingnews. Armstrong announced his participation nearly a month ago. The two will battle on August 11th.
The endurance event will mark Landis' return to mountain biking, the discipline where his cycling career started as a young junior in central Pennsylvania. He later gave up mountain bike racing to embark in a full-time road racing career in 1998.
Chlouber, who's retired from Colorado's state senate, described the race's locale to Cyclingnews. "Leadville has one stoplight and is a small mining town. Lance Armstrong coming to Leadville will be our greatest visitor since 1878 when President Grant came here. We're equally excited to have Floyd Landis. This is a tough race, these are tough guys, they are coming here to win. It's unbelievable to have two Tour de France winners on our starting line."
"I started my racing career on a mountain bike in 1993," remembered Landis, who anticipates returning to his roots. "Training for Leadville will be great preparation for a return to the Tour de France. With my successful hip resurfacing and my training load increasing, I'm very much looking forward to racing my bike again." Landis is recovering from hip surgery on September 17th. Leadville will put his new hip joint to the test.
Landis is without a team for 2007, and his pro racing eligibility remains in question due to ongoing proceedings for a positive doping test from Stage 17 of the Tour de France. If the positive test is upheld, Landis will be suspended from competing in sanctioned races, but Chlouber said Landis will be welcome in Leadville.
"Without question, Landis will still be able to compete in our race. We are more than grateful for him to accept our invitation to race. Personally, I believe that Landis will be exonerated, and his Tour de France win will be upheld." Referring to both Armstrong and Landis, "We have a deep and abiding appreciation for these two guys, and I'm not going to tolerate anyone being negative about them. One thing the mining industry has taught us over the last 120 years is a high degree of integrity. We expect that of ourselves and others."
The Leadville 100 began in 1983 and covers a 100-mile course through the Sawatch mountains. It features 15,600 feet of climbing and descending. Altitude is perhaps the most challenging feature of the race. Its lowest point is 9,200 feet, and the highest point is 12,620 feet. The race will accept registrations from January 3-31, 2007. A lottery will then select participants from the entries received. Typically, 750 racers start and about 500-600 finish.