Is Keegan Swirbul the Next Lance Armstrong?

At 17, Keegan Swirbul has already beaten cycling's former despot at his own game

(Photo: Benjamin Rasmussen)
Keegan swirbul lance armstrong race winner mountain biking mountain states cup power of four

WHEN A CYCLIST beats Lance Armstrong, he doesn’t usually get invited to dinner and called the future of cycling by the sport’s disgraced but still competitive alpha male. But that’s what happened last August when 17-year-old Swirbul won the Power of Four mountain-bike race in Aspen, Colorado. Swirbul kept pace with Armstrong over 36 miles and 9,000 feet of vertical gain, then dropped him on a grueling final climb. At a time when cycling is in desperate need of a clean break from its past, Swirbul’s win put him at the front of a new crop of young riders and gave the sport a fresh face to celebrate.


The margin by which Swirbul beat Lance Armstrong in a race last August.

PEDIGREE: Swirbul’s talent for endurance racing became clear when he competed in a regional mountain-bike series as a kid. He didn’t win, but he was regularly beating adult riders—and he was seven years old. Around nine, Swirbul became interested in freestyle skiing and parkour (check out his videos on YouTube), then added nordic skiing to his regimen in high school. He credits those skills for reducing the “fear factor on descents.”

ASCENSION: After focusing on cross-country mountain biking, Swirbul scored an impressive win in last year’s Mountain States Cup series, a five-race regional event in Colorado.

NEXT UP: This April, Swirbul heads into his first year as a member of a pro mountain-biking team, Denver-based Orbea–Tuff Shed, a small squad that Swirbul signed on with last November. His ultimate goal: competing in the Tour de France. “I’m hoping that I can make the switch from mountain biking to road racing like Cadel Evans and Floyd Landis,” he says. One thing remains certain: look for him to continue doing backflips off whatever podium he finds himself on. “It’s my thing!” he says—at least until his sponsors beg him to stop.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
From Outside Magazine, Apr 2013
Filed To: CelebritiesAthletesBiking
Lead Photo: Benjamin Rasmussen
More Adventure