Playing mind games in sport is an age old practise, which has now gone digital. Possibly the greatest use of social media to date occurred this morning when Lance Armstrong challenged Chris Lieto to a time trial showdown on Twitter.
To give you the background, Chris Lieto finished 2nd in the Hawaiian Ironman in 2009 after leading for the majority of the race, and set a new record for the bike leg. Lance Armstrong is planning to race the Hawaiian Ironman in 2011 and is, quite possibly, the greatest bike rider of all time. The two trained together for a week last year and I wonder if Lieto learned more about the bike than Armstrong learned about the Ironman... They are both training in Hawaii at the moment, although separately.
So here's how the tweet-off unfolded:
Lance Armstrong: Just passed @chrislieto going the other way. He was hammerin. Hey Chris, a little TT showdown on the Queen K tomorrow? You, me, and whoever.
Chris Lieto: @lancearmstrong see u on the Queen-K! Will have to be after 8am cause I have to swim first. Flying out mid day. Give me a call.
Just to ensure that 10,000 Astana/ Livestrong jersey wearing goons don't rock up to ride with the two, Armstrong has reaffirmed: This won't be a twitter ride. First ever "twitter time trial". Love it.
But what everyone really wants to see was put succinctly by @keeldragger: @lancearmstrong Why don't you make it interesting and challenge @chrislieto to a run after the TT?
I'd also like to see a swim before that.
The hammer has been laid down, and it's on. Armstrong takes the upper hand and announces it to his 2,439,394 followers:
Queen K Hwy TT Challenge. Tomorrow 9:30am. Start - Waikeloa Beach Dr to Kukio Nui Dr. 14 miles. Full gas. Take it easy on me @chrislieto.
Sensing that the 14 miles is short enough to have his ass handed to him on a plate, Lieto harks up with:
Swim at A Bay at 7am. See u there @lancearmstrong.
This short sharp jab seems to have hit the target, with a rather weak reply from Armstrong:
@chrislieto now that would require clearance from @johanbruyneel which I know we won't get!
Lance Armstrong isn't stupid. He isn't Keiren Perkins, either... And as a result, Chris Lieto accepts the inevitable and takes it like a man with this bold, yet uneffective dying tweet:
What am I supposed 2do when Lance announces to 2mil ppl we got a race w/o asking me first? We gotta race!
Stay tuned to see how it goes down: