Back in 1989, someone within the United States Cycling Federation made a decision that was to effect bicycle racing in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
America forever. A young triathlete from
Plano, Texas, was invited to attend a Junior Team training camp at the Colorado Olympic Training Centre after winning his sports national sprint championships. Maybe you've heard of this guy, he's called Lance Armstrong. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
Armstrong left this camp with an invitation to represent the
United States at the up coming Junior World Championships held in
Moscow. Tactical naivety proved to be the American's downfall at the championships but it wet his appetite to further his development in his newly found sport and to finally realize his goal of competing in the Olympics. "My feeling at the time when I switched over was that in cycling there are a lot of things you have to learn and know. In triathlon you don't have time to learn because you are going so hard all the time. But by not doing cycling I was losing out on all this tactical experience. I figured I could go back to triathlon any time" . And so the switch was made.
Armstrong ditched his speedos and goggles and opted instead for the yellow lycra of the newly formed US Pro team Subaru/Montgomery headed by the legendary Eddie Borysewicz. Back then the Texan was already turning heads with Eddie B noting, "This guy could be the next Lemond, but he needs time to grow" . And grow he did posting good results that year for his new team and the National Program headed up by a certain Chris Carmichael. Lance was already developing strong opinions and he certainly knew which direction he wanted to be going: "After the Olympics I don't want to race in
America at all. I don't want to be based in
America. I found I really like the European style of Professional racing" .
By now Armstrong had moved from
Plano to the capital of
Austin, and into an apartment rented to him by the then Subaru Soigneur, JT Neal whom he continued to work with as he became more involved in the National Program. "It was time for me to get away. I was 19 at the time and needed to get out on my own." During the winter of 91/92 Armstrong signed his first professional contract with the European based American team Motorola providing him with opportunity to ride with some of the great English-speaking riders of the time including Phil Anderson and Andy Hampsten. Although the contract was signed, Armstrong would spend much of 1992 continuing to ride as an amateur with the national team as he prepared for the Barcelona Olympics. During the first half of this year he picked up several noticeable victories including La Vuelta La Ribiera in
Spain, First Union Grand Prix in
Atlanta and the Thrift Drug Classic in
Pittsburgh. Armstrong made very little impact in the Barcelona Olympic Games but immediately turned professional.
His first pro race in