Floyd Landis Interview: He's back, this time it's different
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Floyd Landis Interview: He's back, this time it's different

by Neil Browne at 12:37 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews

Floyd LandisThe past several years have been a roller coaster ride for American Floyd Landis, full of the sort of drama that could rival any daytime television writer. The Pennsylvania native was raised by a devout Mennonite family in Lancaster county, before letting his talent and passion for cycling take him to the sport's highest honor in 2006, as the overall winner of the Tour de France.

Landis defied all the odds in the Grande Boucle that year, riding in control of the race lead during the sixteenth stage until he cracked just 15 kilometers from the finish. He lost more than ten minutes to the stage winner of the day and plummeted down the standings to eleventh overall. He began stage seventeen with whispers in the peloton of a broken man, but a vicious display of teamwork at the base of the Col des Saissies by his Phonak team, the first major climb of five that day, saw his rivals dropped and Landis emerge with the longest time trial in modern Tour de France history at 125 kilometers.

His audacious move left him just 30 seconds behind race leader Oscar Pereiro, and he would overtake the Spaniard in the final time trial. Just four days later his team announced that Landis tested positive for an unusually high ratio of testosterone in the sample taken after his epic ride in stage seventeen. Landis' legal team mounted a defense citing inconsistencies in the handling and evaluation of his urine samples, but the disqualification was upheld and he was stripped of his Tour title. He continues to maintain his innocence.

This season he was expecting to ride for Michael Ball's Rock Racing team, but when the team couldn't secure a professional license he was on his own in the eleventh hour searching for a team. In a surprise move, Raashan Bahati's new Bahati Foundtation Pro Cycling team decided to bring Landis on board, and he's now gotten more of an opportunity than he'd expected - a way to channel his cycling into something truly positive again by helping underprivileged youth.

Landis talked to VeloNation about working with Bahati on his foundation, and the new partnership with his long-time supporter Dr. Brent Kay and the OUCH Sports Medical Center to help fund a youth track team.

VeloNation: When did you get in touch with Rahsaan regarding his team, The Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team?

Floyd Landis: I have been in touch with them for a few months. I was talking to them and seeing what their goal was. At that time I had a couple of teams I was speaking to and I had been interested in them because they seem to have a different approach. The current agreement transpired about a week ago.

VN: The team's goals must include an invite to the Tour of California. You must fit into the team's scheme of someone who could perform in that race?

Landis: I'm hoping we get the opportunity to do that race. I think when the team is unveiled officially tomorrow night (in Los Angeles at Club Nokia) we will be a strong consideration for the Tour of California.

VN: I know the Bahati Foundation team's mission is to help the kids and get them interested in cycling...

Landis: The goal of the foundation is pretty simple. Rashaan has a strong interest in cycling so they want to use the team as a conduit to draw attention and raise funds for underprivileged kids and to do so at races we attend. Then we will link that with a way for them to continue to be involved with cycling, either through a local bike shop or a sponsor that we have. It's not just we show up at a race and then leave and that's the end of it. It is about getting to kids who may not be able to afford to or be exposed to cycling.

VN: Dr. Kay of OUCH is also getting involved with a track program for kids in the Los Angeles area.

Landis: Dr. Kay for quite sometime has asked me about doing something like that utilizing the Home Depot Velodrome in Carson. Then this opportunity for me came along and it was something he wanted to do. It became a good fit. He wanted to promote track races in the velodrome and get the kids educated about what track racing is all about, because right now there is no process for getting kids from that area down to the track. It's a great track and it's not being used like it could be.

VN: When you entered into the negotiations with the team did you outline a race schedule that you wanted?

Landis: The team's schedule isn't entirely different than the schedule of the team I was on last year. Obviously with Rashaan we will have a better focus at the criteriums, so I don't know if I will be necessarily be involved in many crits. I might be good for leadouts, but we'll have a strong crit team without me. Over and above that we have Nathan O'Neill who is as good as anyone for the stage races. He's good at time trials and things like that. So the race schedule won't be that much different than last year.

VN: Do you have any personal racing goals?

Landis: My goal is to help promote the Bahati Foundation. Because of cycling I got to see a lot of the world and do a lot of things I wouldn't have done, and I think that the more kids that get exposed to cycling and might get passionate about it, the better. It [cycling] is a way to broaden your point of view about the world. Especially if you come from a place where you don't have much of an opportunity to go anywhere or do anything at all. Cycling certainly provides that.


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