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Steve Larsen was a former Davis resident (born 1970-03-13 in Santa Clara County) who started cycling at 13 and went on to become a successful professional athlete in the areas of road bike, mountain bike, cyclo-cross and triathlons. Larsen began cycling in 1984 and jumped into cycling just as Greg LeMond was becoming a household name. He entered his first cyclocross race and bronzed in 1986 at the first Junior National Championship in Santa Cruz. Larsen went on to road race through the Junior National Team Program in Europe before moving up to the Amateur World Championships with the U.S. team.
Then firmly entrenched in road bike racing, Larsen got his first professional contract for the Motorola squad around 1991 and relocated to Italy where he raced professionally for almost four years and became a highly respected road racer, riding alongside teammate Lance Armstrong. By the close of 1994, he relocated to Bend, Oregon where he transitioned to mountain bike racing and won the NORBA National Cross-Country Mountainbike Champion title in 1998 and again in 2000. Despite a stellar career as America's top male mountain bike racer, 2000 saw him barely miss a spot on the U.S. Olympic squad at the NORBA NCS event in Deer Valley, Utah.
Always looking for greater challenges, Steve began to eye triathlons. In May, 2000 he entered the California Wildflower Triathlon on a whim and surprised many by surviving the swim, moving into third after turning in the day's fastest bike split and then holding on for fourth against a field that included some of the sport's best. In July of the following year, Larsen entered the Isuzu Ironman USA Lake Placid triathlon and won the first Ironman he entered by scorching the bike course in 4:33 (a new course record) and setting a new overall course record by four minutes [8:33:11].
But these other triathlons were just stepping stones on Steve's path to Hawaii's Ironman World Championship in October 2001. Back in Davis with his wife and two children now, after purchasing Wheelworks in April, Steve was again road racing with Pearl Izumi as his sponsor. The purchase of Wheelworks, renamed Steve Larsen's Wheelworks, was especially meaningful because it was at this shop that he began riding. During this ramp-up period, Steve took full advantage of Davis' many opportunties including its strong swim program and working with former Motorola/7-Eleven team doctor Massimo Testa and former 7-Eleven pro Dr. Eric Heiden. With his cycling skills and intensity, Larsen easily qualified for the event and was off to Kona in October. There he made an impressive showing, getting out of the water nearly 12 minutes behind the leaders then blazing through the 112-mile bike leg, holding the front of the race until mile 10, ultimately finishing in 9th place but "knowing exactly where I can improve for next year."
By 2003, Steve Larsen was done with professional racing and looking forward to spending more time focusing on his family than on sports. He retired in December and sold Wheelworks shortly thereafter, relocating once more to Bend, Oregon. There, he went into commercial real estate and shifted to competing on an amateur level.
Steve Larsen died 2009-05-19 at the age of 39 in Bend, Oregon after collapsing during a running workout. A preliminary autopsy report found heart failure to be unlikely, and pointed to a possible viral cause1.
Steve's Career Milestones
Steve is the only American to have ridden the Cycling World Championships in 4 different disciplines (road, mountain bike, track, and cyclo-cross).
1998 NORBA National Cross-Country Mountainbike Champion 2000 NORBA National Cross-Country Mountainbike Champion 2001 4th Place Wildflower Triathlon - 1st American (Bike course record) 2001 1st Place Half-Vineman Triathlon (Course Record) 2001 1st Place Ironman USA (Bike course record) 2002 6th Place Quelle Challenge (Ironman Distance) 2003 6th Place IM New Zealand (New bike course record 4:26)
Also see Steve Larsen Plaza.