Race to replace - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Race to replace

Lynsay Clutter/Eyewitness News

Speedway - Multi Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was back in Indianapolis Saturday hosting the first cycling race ever to take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Amateur competitors got the chance to claim an honorary spot on Lance's former pro cycling team and to raise money for a great cause.

In May,  Lance Armstrong drove the pace car for the 90th Indy 500. He was back at the Motor Speedway Saturday but this time changing gears on a bike.

"Although I am retired, everyday I wake up and say: God I wish I could go for a bike ride," said Armstrong.

Lance got that ride Saturday morning, leading nearly 1500 cyclists on a ceremonial lap around the track.

"Not only did everyone get to ride with Lance, but no one has ever put a bike on this track before," said one rider.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway spokesman Terry Angstadt said,  "We really have toyed with the idea of bicycles on this track and what an opportunity to do it as a benefit for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and to be involved with Lance again."

All the money goes to the Livestrong Foundation and the IU Cancer Center.

"I think I can win in making cancer a national priority. Especially for the upcoming elections," said Armstrong.

If that's not a victory in itself, Saturday's event offers a competitive opportunity for amateur cyclists. 

The winner will take Lance's spot on the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team for the US Open Championships next month.

"Because he retired last year, he left this big hole in the team. So we came up with the idea: Race to Replace," said Ken Dice from the Discovery Channel.

When the checkered flag waved 24-year-old AJ Smith from Florida was the first to finish.

"My biggest downfall is weight. When I heard it was going to be on a two and half velodrome, it couldn't be more perfect for me so. It feels great. Now I know what it feels like to be Lance. Almost, I haven't won seven Tour de Frances, but now I know what it feels like!," said Smith.

While AJ wears the new Discovery Channel jersey for next month's pro championships the man who inspired him will be racing for a cure.

Smith will race as an honorary member of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team for one day in the U.S. Pro Championships on September 1st in Greenville, South Carolina.

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