The event was initially supposed to be a triathlon between Chris McCormack and Lance Armstrong.
Two-time Ironman world champion Chris McCormack let details of a new challenge slip while on Competitor Radio with Bob Babbitt Sunday night.
The original idea was for McCormack to race against seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong in a triathlon with distances designed to create a level playing field. According to McCormack, the deal fell apart at the last minute.
“It was like a 12th-hour collapse,” McCormack told Babbitt. “We spoke to him about a year prior when he was talking about coming across to triathlon. I said, ‘Hey, if you’re coming across, you’re Lance Armstrong, why don’t you race me. I’m the world champion. We’ll have a mano-a-mano race. Let’s pick a distance and we’ll call it the equalizer and try to get it as close to a sprint finish as possible. We had the Hamilton Island in Northern Queensland, the Australian government was throwing a lot of money at it. We were pretty much ready to sign off on the contracts. It was agreed. The distances were set. We were looking at a 2K swim, a 64K bike ride and a 14K run. Now, I look at it and [those] distances were very good. It would have been a close race.”
Although Armstrong ultimately backed out, a sponsorship had already been put in place leading to the creation of a new event.
“He ultimately signed with Ironman and there must have been an exclusivity clause there because ours fell over,” McCormack continued. “The Queensland government was sitting there going, ‘Well now we’ve got all this money to throw at something so we’re having another event at the end of this year which will be six triathletes versus cyclists on Hamilton Island.”
The event has drawn an all-star lineup from both triathlon and cycling sides.
“We’ve got Chris Lieto, myself, Ronnie Schildknecht, Jordan Rapp, Terenzo Bozzone and Craig Alexander versus Philippe Gilbert, Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, Robbie McEwan and Fabian Cancellara,” McCormack explained.
The three-day event will take place in December and will consist of a team time trial, a road race and a criterium.
For more details on the race, and more on McCormack’s plans for 2012, listen to the complete Competitor Radio podcast.
Triathlete.com will provide more details on the Queensland cycling event as they become available.