Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde and Dylan Casey, reunited as teammates for the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo mountain bike race, which took place in Tucson, Arizona this weekend. The quartet placed third overall in the four-man relay.
The "Nine Inch Males" Team (Kalan Beisel, Kyle Trudeau, Nick Gould, Brand Aven) won the category with a total of 24 laps. Their fastest lap was clocked by Beisel at 56:53. The "Stan's No Lube" team (Evan Boone, Nash Dory, Collin DiMattio, Avery Baltunis) edged out Armstrong's crew by three seconds.
Armstrong was banned for life from competing in sanctioned events by the US Anti-Doping Agency in 2012, but is still allowed to participate in non-sanctioned events such as the 24 hour races.
The four riders, all now retired, were teammates from 1999-2002 at the US Postal Service team. Hincapie and Vande Velde were given six-month bans after testifying to USADA about doping on their former team.
Despite a major rain storm from California bearing down on the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo race venue at the Willow Springs Ranch, the spirits of 1,800 racers seemed as high as ever. Celebrating its eighteenth year, and supporting the Tucson Medical Center and other charities, a "24-Hour Town" sprung up on Friday with over 4,000 residents near the base of the Catalina Mountain Range.
In addition to offering solo racing, the event features a variety of duo, four, and five-person teams. There are also a single-speed division and many corporate teams. The race started at noon on Saturday and ended at noon on Sunday.
The course was 16.1 miles of fire roads and singletrack with 1,231 feet of climbing per lap, and ending with the famous rock drop. The terrain is rolling with a combination of hard pack, sand, and rock surfaces. The course has a few technical sections that gave the more experienced riders a chance for some thrills. But, there were longer go-around options for the less adventurous.
Stan's No Lube fought a heated battle for second place with Lance Armstrong's Wedu Team throughout Saturday afternoon. The Stan's team continued their regular rotation throughout the night, while the former U.S Postal riders started double laps for each of the riders starting around 9:00 PM. This is a common tactic used so other riders can get some sleep.
By sunrise the two teams were only three minutes apart and each had completed seventeen laps. By 10:00 AM the lead was down to two minutes. With one lap remaining the lead was down one minute.
George Hincapie made up a massive amount of ground on Nash Dory on the final lap, but the NoTubes Team was able to earn second place by just three seconds.
Anthony White (UK) won the solo men's category, while Chase Edwards from Flagstaff, Arizona came from behind to win the women's division with 15 laps over Rhonda Geisler.
The "Make This Race Great Again" Team won the Corporate Team division with 22 laps and finished fourth overall. Winning the singlespeed division, The Roca Roja Rollers completed 22 laps and finished fifth overall.
This year's race was dedicated to Mountain Bike Hall of Fame member Laird Knight of Granny Gear Productions, who arguably invented the 24-hour race format with races that included 24 Hours of Canaan and 24 Hours of Moab. Epic Rides founder Todd Sadow remarked, "Without Laird Knight, there'd be no Epic Rides".
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