When we last checked in with Floyd Landis, he was preparing for a three-point shootout with Utah Jazz guard, Deron Williams. Obviously, Williams won but that had less to do with the fact that he has shot better than 36 percent from long range during his NBA career and more to do with the fact that Floyd was a Mennonite from Lancaster County who wasn’t allowed to wear shorts when he was a kid.
Besides, everyone knows that Mennonite kids are like Hakeem Olajuwon in the low post. And this is just mean:
Of course Landis had to squeeze in the showdown against Williams between a full slate of races for the domestic bicycling racing squad, Team OUCH, in his first year back following serious hip surgery and his suspension during the 2006 Tour de France. Yet after just one season with OUCH (and a full year of serious training), Landis left OUCH for Rock Racing because he hoped to ride in more challenging races in Europe.
It was a bold move for a couple of reasons. One is that in eight races last year, Landis cracked the top 10 just twice and when racing against an international field in the Tour of California he finished a respectable 23rd.
Those results don’t exactly make the top teams clamor to sign him up, but it wasn’t horrible. Horrible, I imagine, is Floyd shooting three-pointers against an NBA All-Star.
Another reason the departure from OUCH was bold was because Rock Racing wasn’t exactly the most stable team around. Not only did it have a bit of an outlaw image with the black kits complete with the skull and bones insignia, but also because it ended up becoming a home for a few star-crossed riders like Tyler Hamilton and Oscar Sevilla.
In a sense Landis definitely fit in with Rock, but because the International Cycling Union denied the team’s request for a license to race in Europe in 2010 it appears as if he is in an all-too familiar position called limbo.
Still, even though he doesn’t seem to have many options for racing on the big races this summer, Landis put on a Rock Racing shirt and won the time trial at the Tour of the Bahamas in a record time. Better yet, he brought out the pre-suspension trash talk after the race that everyone always (not so) secretly loved.
According to the stellar site, Twisted Spoke, Floyd said: “I was on somebody else’s road bike with clinchers and no aero clothes. Take that [bleepers].”
So does the record ride and the salty talk mean he’s ready to take on Europe? Tough question. Cycling is not like American sports where athletes who serve drug-related suspensions are welcomed back after doing the time. The Europeans hold grudges not so much because of the actual deed, but mostly because someone had the audacity to be suspected of anything.
Due process? Nah, that’s for wimpy sports where there is an actual union protecting the athletes.
No, Landis doesn’t have too many options, but that hasn’t stopped the speculation from making the rounds. He’s been mentioned as a good fit for American team BMC Racing, which projects to be a solid outfit for the Tour de France. However, the brass for BMC are the same guys (owner Andy Rihs and director John Lelangue) that ran Team Phonak the year Floyd simultaneously won and was forced to give up the victory in the Tour de France.
From Day 1, of course, Floyd has been linked as a possible grinder for his old pal Lance Armstrong and his brand new Team RadioShack. That might be nothing more than wild dreams from the press and/or fans of personalities that blend like car crashes, but after all the speculation runs its course, it always comes back to the same place…
Lance and Floyd together again?
It is almost too good to be true. Imagine if Lennon and McCartney decided to go back into the studio together after The Beatles broke up. That may be pushing it a bit, but Landis was Lance’s head hatchet man for three Tour victories. Moreover, Lance hasn’t ruled it out.
“I wouldn’t rule anything out,” Armstrong said. “He’s a great rider, a tremendous story.”
That could be nothing more than a politically correct answer because there is no indication that the two camps have discussed anything. Still, for some reason it always comes back to those two riding together for one last go-around.
We’re getting the band back together!
Again, who knows if it’s possible? Who knows if it will happen? But just know that no one has ruled it out as ridiculous. After all, by all accounts Lance is a loyal guy who remembers every slight and good deed. When the doping agencies put the screws on Landis and asked him to give up Lance, Landis refused to be a rat or lie. Instead of selling out anyone Floyd took it and paid with much more than money.
Certainly acts like that are worth something… right?