SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Chad Gerlach's comeback from five years of homelessness and drugs to the heights of pro bike racing was the stuff of legend, a triumphant U-turn in his life that startled fellow racers and fans alike.
But the cheering has suddenly stopped. Gerlach has not only quit racing, he has returned to living on the streets -- spotted frequently in midtown Sacramento, glassy-eyed and red-faced, wearing dirty clothes.
Throughout the spring and summer, Gerlach, 36, trained five hours a day, won races, dominated opponents, electrified fans and prompted worldwide media interest.
Now, the man who finished fifth racing against Lance Armstrong in June before 20,000 spectators in Nevada City, who lapped a national-caliber field in Truckee days earlier, has been reduced to asking passers-by for spare change.
Records show Sacramento police picked him up on Sept. 25 for suspected public drunkenness. His father, Peter Gerlach, says he got his son into drug rehab about three weeks ago, but Chad didn't stick it out.
It's a sudden downward spiral for someone whose very public battle with addiction on A&E's "Intervention" had inspired many.
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