Wiens out to defend Leadville Trail crown
Epic rematch of ‘Dave vs. Goliath’ looks to be a go for Aug. 15
Times Staff Writer
Originally published 2009-07-30
Local legend Dave Wiens isn’t a big fan of hype or hoopla.
But after winning six consecutive Leadville Trail 100 (LT100) mountain bike races — and taking down names like Landis and Armstrong in the process — a certain degree of celebrity is inevitable.
When Wiens mounts up to defend his title again on Saturday, Aug. 15, it could be the last time he consciously enters his name into that equation.
“I really feel like it’s the last time I’ll race Leadville to try and win, just because it’s all encompassing in the summer,” said Wiens. “Leadville is starting to get in the way of family fun a little bit and I would like to get to the point where I do it as more of a regular rider.”
Those intentions aren’t sparing Wiens from the build up to this year’s race. LT100 officials have reported that Lance Armstrong will be in attendance and there’s strong possibilities that Floyd Landis will return too.
The potentially star-studded cast will be among more than 1,000 riders who will embark on what’s come to be known as a premier event in ultra-marathon mountain bike racing.
First run in 1994, the USA Cycling-sanctioned event takes participants on a 50-mile out-and-back course, starting and finishing in downtown Leadville. More than 14,000 feet in total elevation gain is endured in the process.
Wiens is using his recent experience at the eight-stage Trans-Alp mountain bike race to prepare for Leadville. Together with Austrian rider Alban Lakata, Wiens’ Team Ergon finished the 385-mile trek in seventh place, at 24:50:57.5.
“I welcomed something completely different this year and we’ll see how that ends up working out for me,” said Wiens. “Now I’m charged with trying to figure out what to do with these three weeks.”
As for the other half of the “Dave vs. Goliath” rematch, well, he just recorded a pretty good finish of his own in Europe.
“Lance may be the only racer I know of who will be using the Tour de France to train for the Leadville Trail 100,” joked LT100 President Ken Chlouber. Armstrong finished third in his return to the world’s most prestigious cycling event.
Last year’s LT100 was Armstrong’s first finish in a competitive bike race since he retired following his seventh straight victory in the Tour de France. Wiens beat him by almost two minutes in 2008, setting a new course record of 6:45:45.
With big names like David “Tinker” Juarez and Jeremiah Bishop also rumored to toe the line come Aug. 15, Wiens knows it’s going to be more than just a two-man race. Levi Leipheimer, Armstrong’s teammate in France this year, was eyeing Leadville as well, but a crash during the tour and a subsequent broken wrist is likely to keep him out.
“Anything can happen, but that’s why they fire the gun and people go out,” he said.
A full slate of other local riders will return to Leadville for another run, with Ethan Passant of Crested Butte another likely threat among pro men.
While Wiens is still approaching the race with a full regimen of physical training and mental preparation leading up to the event, he says there’s less pressure this time around.
“I went through more nerves the last couple of years with Floyd and Lance, and feel like I accomplished my goals for those two years,” said Wiens. “I almost feel like those were challenges that were heavy in my mind the last couple of years and they’re gone now.”
For more information on the 2009 LT100, visit www.leavilletrail100.com or call 719.486.3502.