Lance Armstrong: Has he retired from involvement in USA Pro Cycling Challenge?
When the former Quiznos Pro Challenge changed its name to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, it didn't sever ties with Lance Armstrong, who joined then-Governor Bill Ritter to announce the race last August.
But that doesn't mean Armstrong will very involved, if at all.
According to race spokeswoman Stacie Langue, organizers of the seven-day race opted for a name switch because they wanted a moniker that better represented the contest's seriousness.
"We feel that our race here in Colorado could be America's answer to the Tour de France," she says. "We always had a grand vision, and now we have a name that reflects that vision more accurately. And that's the reason for naming it the USA Pro Cycling Challenge."
The course covers 600 miles of Rocky Mountain terrain, and 127 professional cyclist from all over the world will come to Colorado August 22-28 to pedal up and down the mountains. The bikers will top 12,000 feet in elevation twice during the race.
"We're offering a race unlike any other in the Unites States, and we're able to say that because of the Rocky Mountains and the challenge the terrain provides us," Lange notes. "It's going to be one of the most challenging courses for professional racers in all the United States."
Armstrong, Ritter and friends at last year's race announcement.
As for the naming logistics, Quiznos' name is no longer as prominent, but little else has changed about the company's participation.
"They are still a founding partner for the race and they will still have the same involvement in the race as they always have had," says Lange. "You will see a lot of Quiznos branding at the race as a founding partner. They are still at the level of involvement that they always have."
Lange couldn't comment on whether Quiznos received any kind of a refund now that its name is not in the title.
Meanwhile, seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong, the race's original co-founder, won't be as involved as he once might have been. Since he's officially retired from cycling, Lange isn't sure how connected to the project he'll be at this point.
"Lance was very much a part of the vision of this race from the onset, but since he's come out and announced his retirement, we're respecting his space in retirement," she says. "His team, Team RadioShack, will be in our race. We look forward to Lance's continued support with the race."
Of course, Ritter's retired, too -- at least from the governorship. But he's still helping out with the race, even attending the press conference last week at which organizers announced a television deal with Versus and NBC. Versus will air 23 hours of coverage and NBC will show the final two hours live.
The race will begin in Colorado Springs and snake through nine mountain cities before ending in Denver. Race organizers expect a Colorado record 500,000 spectators based on a similar race held in California.
No word on whether Armstrong will be one of them.
More from our Sports archive: "Lance Armstrong doped in opinion of Bicycling editor and Tour De Lance author Bill Strickland."
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