by Chris Brewer
It?s hard to believe that the 2010 Argus Cycle Tour is now over and done. LIVESTRONG Founder and Chairman Lance Armstrong is now back in Europe with his South African teammate Daryl Impey preparing for their next races with Team RadioShack. But before they could get back to their ?day jobs? in professional cycling there was a big challenge ahead of them, namely making it through the 50kmh/30mph+ winds of Cape Town as they whipped around the 110km clockwise course (in fact the winds were so strong the audio on our video was simply overwhelmed, hence the ?old school? reporting).
The day started off early ? really early. Alarms were set for 430am in order to make the 615am start time. When I asked Lance if he?d ever raced at this time before, he laughed and said, ?No, actually this feels more like getting up for swim team practice in high school!? While the LIVESTRONG staff gathered with Lance, Daryl and the race organizers in a local coffee shop next to the start line, thousands of riders and fans were streaming in. Not only hoping to catch a glimpse of Lance as headed down the road, but to then line up for their own personal challenge to see what time they could set, because at the end of the day that?s the real prestige of the world?s largest timed cycling event: what can you do against the clock?
As the time came for race director David Bellairs to get the boys to the line the crowd immediately pounced, surrounding Lance?s group looking for photos and autographs. ?I?ve never seen anything like this!? noted Daryl, who was quickly distanced and wisely chose to head off to a quieter area of the start line and greet some old friends. Apparently the press hadn?t got word that Lance was going to work for Daryl to get the win (really), but no worries as it gave him some time to gather himself before heading out.
Following an on-air interview with the revered ?voice of cycling? Phil Liggett ? surrounded en mass by local media ? the boys were lined up and away they went, right on time. The long and short of it was that Lance did just what he said they?d do: battled the wind, attack on the last climb, and see who was left to go for the win. As Lance brought the select group to the finish line there were just a few too many other riders left and local man Malcolm Lange took the victory with Daryl settling for third place in the sprint, Lance ninth.
But that was just the story of a few riders on the front. The real amazement is the following 35,000 riders who leave wave after wave for the next four hours. I was honored to get to ride in the lead car for the women?s pro race, my driver Meraunt giving me not only a grand tour of Cape Town, but pointing out many of the incredible sights and history of this beautiful land.
For the LIVESTRONG team, we had intended to have a yellow km section on the final climb, but again high winds nixed that plan. But once again the Argus race committee came through for us, using the banners for that section in addition to our other LIVESTRONG signage to really make the finish line a testimony to our new partnership with South Africa, as well as appropriately featuring the title sponsors.
We just can?t say thank you enough to everyone for the hospitality and genuine openness to our mission plans with our partners in this beautiful country. We?ll keep everyone updated as our anti-stigma campaign kicks off, but as our team heads back to Austin on Monday we just want to say one more heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone we met! It?s been an amazing trip and we look forward to working with you in the very near future.
Ciao for now, thanks for checking in – Chris