ARMSTRONG'S RETURN WILL BE POLITICAL THEATER
When Lance Armstrong announced his un-retirement and decision to ride for the Astana team under the direction of former mentor Johan Bruyneel, the panic began at ASO, the company that owns the Tour de France and most of the other big European stage races. ASO has declared a silent war on Bruyneel, going so far as to ban the Astana team, which Bruyneel now directs.
The ban was blamed on previous Tour drug problems, though the 2008 Astana team was made up of all new riders. The ban from all ASO races came only after Bruyneel began working for Astana, and it included this year's new favorite, Levi Leipheimer as well as Alberto Contador, also a favorite for the Tour win. Many said that ASO did not want an American or a Spaniard to win the Tour.
Now ASO has to make a decision. Armstrong, 36, is a huge draw, and his re-entry into racing comes at a time when both the international interest and the television audience for the Tour de France has fallen dramatically. At the same time, ASO has been accused of having too much control over the sport of cycling, and behaving with unseemly arrogance. If ASO continues its fight with Bruyneel by banning his team, the outcry in the world of cycling may create more of a backlash against ASO than the corporation can handle.
Stay tuned---this is going to be interesting.
LEIPHEIMER LEADS SPAIN'S VUELTA
Still, even ASO can't keep a good rider down. Levi Leipheimer has become the leader of Spain's Vuelta stage race, taking the lead from France's David Moncoutie. The two are ahead of Spanish champions Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde, with only three hard climbs to go.
ROBINSON AND DAY DO THE DEW
Two of the first Olympic BMX medalists will strut their stuff at the Dew Tour in Salt Lake City Sept. 11-14. Mike Day (silver) and Donny Robinson (Bronze) will compete in their first race since the Olympics at the Salt Lake stop. Women's bronze medalist Jill Kinter wouldn't have a cat to compete in, since there's no women allowed in the Dew's BMX field, but that's okay; she's heading for the hospital to have surgery to repair the torn ACL she rode with in Beijing.
The three riders took half of all the medals awarded at the debut of BMX in the 2008 Olympics. NBC, which neglected the sport at the Games, will show the Dew race this year. The network also ignored BMX in its televised coverage of the Dew Tour last year. Maybe someone at the peabrain---er, peacock network, has learned a little about the popularity of this sport.
By the way, Day will also make an appearance at the Thursday evening races at RAD Canyon BMX in West Jordan, Utah. Whether he will set the pace for the amateur riders remains to be seen.
MEET THE BAHAMIAN SNOWBOARD TEAM
He's the new snowboarding sensation, and instead of cool runnings, it will be cool flippings. Korath Wright may have been born on one of those small islands off the coast of Florida, but he spent enough years in Whistler, Canada, to learn how to snowboard.
Two years ago, when he placed third in a halfpipe World Cup, the Bahamian government asked him to compete in snowboarding for the Bahamas. Wright quickly agreed, knowing that as the only rider in his country, he would automatically get a spot in World Cups without having to qualify against competing teammates.
His first World Cup of the new season was Sept. 6 in Lake Wanaka, New Zealand, where it's currently excellent winter conditions. Wright didn't place, but he gave notice that he intends to be in the first seed by the time the 2010 Vancouver Olympics comes around. And of course, the Bahamian team of one rider will be a big story all the way up to the Games.
DEER VALLEY NASTAR NEEDS YOU
Skiers: Want a great job? Deer Valley, that ritzy resort in Park City, Utah, is looking for a NASTAR race hill supervisor and six others to work at the resort's NASTAR course. The pay isn't much, but think of the perks: ski every day, sit around signing up the people who want to race, meet rich members of the opposite sex.
But seriously folks, the NASTAR venue at Deer Valley is the best one in Utah. It's long, a little technical, and always well groomed. Well, almost always. Plus, DV, the 2002 freestyle venue, has the famous annual freestyle World Cup as well as a newly annual skiercross World Cup, and you will be part of that, which will be a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun.
If you have ANY race experience, you're in. To find out more, call Jim Bragg at (435) 513-2793; or go to www.deervalley.com, click on "employment" and look for Race and Freestyle Operations.