Kevin Livingston – a former friend of a superstar
Kevin Livingston was born on May, 24, 1973 in St.Louis. Now he is an american pro cyclist. Moving to the german Team Telekom he stepped out of the shadow of Lance Armstrong. He is very talented, but due to his bad luck he was thrown back several times.
At the age of 15 Kevin joined his first cycling team – the spirits of St.Louis, one of the strongest junior teams in the Midwest. First he only had to work for his teammates, but during the season he already showed his talent and became one of the teams stars.
In training rides with seniors – older riders – he was able to defeat most of them in the mountains.
So his strenghts were quite obvious
already in that time. He was and is a good mountain rider.
In 1991 – at the age of 18 – the US trials took place at Colorado Springs. It was a mountanious course which offered some chances to him. He desperately wanted to make it to the top 3, which would have allowed him to take part in the junior world championships. The race favourites were other guys, especially todays professional George Hincapie. But Kevin broke clear from the bunch and soled in to a long solo break win.
This was a very big win for him and
was joined the U.S. national team.
Although his life was quite good then – the U.S. team was flying him to races all over the world for example – a problem developped.
He had to choose between going to the college or continuing seriously as a cyclist.
But his parents advised him not to
waste his talents and that was a big reason, why he continued cycling.
The same year he decided to move to another city, to join the Saturn Cycling Team. This team paid him his first salary.
In 1992 he won a hard amateur stage race in spain, which made the europe cyclist insiders recognize him. As cycling usually takes place in europe, this was very important for him and his career.
In 1993 at the age of 20 he became 5th in the Settimana Ciclista Bergamasca, one of the most important amateur races. With getting 5th he became second in the “Young Rider Classification” of the same race.
No the pro team managers really took
notice of him.
After that succes the Tour DuPont
approached. The Tour DuPont was the biggest american pro race. Although it was a
pro race, it was open to amateurs as well. He was in top form and hoped to score
a good results that would give him the chance to join a pro team the next season.
But in that race his unlucky streak begun. Before the first stage begun he was training with his team for the team time trial. Something was wrong with his bars, so the mechanic tried to repair it from the car. As the car moved too far away Kevin punctured and broke his pelvis.
For Kevin the race and the season were over.
His teammate George Hincapie rode a very good race and was signed by Motorola, the biggest american pro team right after the Tour DuPont…
1994 was his best amateur year. First he finished 17th in the Tour DuPont. On the hardst stage he finished alongside with former Tour de France winner Greg LeMond. In the Tour of Asutria – an amateur race - he won the stage up to the Kaunertaler Gletscher. That is one of the toughest climbs in the cycling circus. At the end of the year he became american amateur champ.
So Motorola almost had no chance but signing him for the next season and they did.
So Kevin Livingston became pro in 1995 at the age of 22.
The Motorola crew did not expect big results of Kevin in his first year. They just signed him to dvelop his talents and to get a good mountain rider to support their stars like Lance Armstrong.
Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie became his biggest friends on the team. But as Hincapie was a sprinter, he rode most of the races to support Armstrong. Armstrong and Livingston became true friends already in Kevin´s first year and he even moved to Austin, Texas, the city where Lance Armstrong lives as well.
1996 Kevin scored his first pro win. He won a mountain stage of the Tour of Galicia in a solo break. Another good result was the 4th place in a tough spanish mountain stage race called Vuelta a Castilla – Leon. He did not only ride to the fourth place there, but supported his teammate Andrea Peron to win the race.
In these days Motorola announced to stop sponsoring the cycling team. As he was a young rider without many wins, Kevin had to be afraid of losing his job.
Luckily the new formed french Cofidis team signed Lance Armstrong. As Lance was Kevins best friend and fond of Kevin´s skills, he insisted that Livingston would join the team as well.
The season of 1997 begun with a big shock for Kevin. His friend Lance Armstrong was dignosed testicular cancer. It was not sure wether he would be able to compete in race ever again or even if he would stay alive.
Despite that Kevin showed some good
form in the spring races. His team manager expected a good result in the first
big race of the season – Milano San Remo.
But Kevin punctured in the race. He
broke his collarbone and was out for three months. He went home to Austin to
stay in form and to support Lance with solving the cancer.
During his recovery, he was surprisingly informed by Cyrille Guimard – his team manager – that he was nominated for the Tour de France.
His whole family and some of his best
friends from the states vsited the tour to cheer at him. In the mountains,
especially in the pyrenées, he did quite good and finished 38th in
the overall classement.
The most notable result was his second place in the Tour de l´Avenir right after the Tour de France. The Tour de l´Avenir is stage race for young professional riders. The best riders in the Tour de l´Avenir often show good results in the Tour de France some years later.
In the next year he had some quarrels with his teams. The team did not really support his friend Lance, who was surprisingly recovering very well and even did some races.
Kevin´s main aim for that year was the Tour de France. He did quite good in the pre- Tour de France races and so he was nominated for the Cofidis Tour team.
Livingston himself finished on 17th
position, but that was not his main success. He and his Cofidis team cracked Jan
Ullrich in the mountain stages. They delivered the german Team Telekom a huge
fight. Due to this fight Jan Ullrich lost a lot of power and Marco pantani was
able to defeat him. American Cofidis rider Bobby Julich became 3rd,
which was a big surprise then.
Due to the quarrels with the team Livingston and Armstrong left Cofidis to join US Postal, a new american top team. Lance Armstrong was back in a form he had never reached before his cancer. He even became 4th in the Vuelta à Espana. So Armstrong turned out to be a time trial and mountain expert.
This made Armstrong the favourite of the Tour de France 1999.
It was Kevin Livingstons only aim of the season to support him there. He himself only scored one good result in the Dauphiné Libéré, one of the most important preparation races he became 6th.
The Tour de France he finished on 36th
place. But his captain Armstrong dominated the tour and won with a big gap of
more than 6 minutes to second placed Alex Zülle. So he was one of the best
helping riders of Armstrong and fulfilled his task very good.
His autumn results were quite bad that year. When he was checked by the team doctor, he diagnosed a virus.
Due to that Kevin flew back to Austin. There he finally had the chance and time to marry his long girlfriend Becky. Kevin was aged 26 then.
The following year, 2000, was kind of the same as the one before. He was told only to prepare for the Tour de France to support Lance. That did not really fit in his plans, but he had no chance.
Lance won the Tour again and Kevin did a good job to help him controlling his opponents, especially Jan Ullrich.
But he was not very happy with his
year. He wanted to reach more than just be the lieutnant of his friend Lance.
Especially because Lance is said to be very arrogant. So the friendship of them
broke down and Kevin decided to leave Lance and the US Postal Service team. As
he had a very good name then he was able to select a team. They were all willing
to sign him because of his great Tour de France performances.
The decision he made, made him more famous than all the results he reached. He decided to join Team Telekom! As Jan Ullrich was the only real opponent of Armstrong in the past year, he kind of betrayed his former friend and captain Lance Armstrong. This produced a big hype in the united states and Kevin Livingston became the personal enemy of all big patriots in american cycling. His transfer to Telekom was compared to General Schwartzkopf fleeing to the iraq by Lance Armstrong.
Their friendship broke up and they lead kind of a cold war since that.
2001 was the first year for he rode for Telekom. It was not a succesful year. He only rode some races to prepare for the Tour de France. In the Tour he supported his new captain Jan Ullrich. Livingston rode not his best Tour but in the mountains he was able to help Ullrich. But Ullrich was not able to reach Armstrongs power and so he lost and became 2nd.
Right after the Tour Kevin did some more races but finished his season before the autumn was reached.
So nothing really changed to the year before where he was so unhappy, except his captain and the place in the Tour.
This novembre his wife Becky gave birth to a daughter. So Kevin became father at the age of 28.
His aims for the next season are:
To support Jan Ullrich to defeat Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France 2002…