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Floyd Landis

Floyd Landis (born October 14, 1975) is an American professional cyclist and the 2006 champion of the Tour de France. Landis is the third American to win the Tour de France after Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong.[1] However, on July 27, 2006, media outlets reported Landis's positive results on an initial drug test leaving the legitimacy of his victory in doubt pending further testing. Later the same day, Landis denied doping [1] in order to win the 2006 Tour de France.

A time-trial specialist as well as a strong climber, Landis turned professional in 1999 with the Mercury Cycling Team. He joined Lance Armstrong's US Postal Service team in 2002, and moved to the Phonak Hearing Systems team in 2005.

Landis is married to Amber Basile, and they have a daughter, Ryan. They live in Murrieta, California, north of San Diego.

Biography

Floyd Landis was raised in a conservative Mennonite community in the unincorporated village of Farmersville in West Earl Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Unlike the more familiar Old Order Amish, conservative Mennonites do employ some modern technology, such as automobiles, but avoid television, movies, and many other elements of "modern" culture. Landis thus grew up somewhat isolated from modern American culture; however he did own a bicycle. He attended Conestoga Valley, a public school, and graduated in 1994, even though some members of his family attended private Mennonite school at some point.

Landis used his first bike to ride out fishing with friends, but quickly learned to enjoy riding for its own sake. He became determined to ride in a local race and showed up wearing sweatpants because his religion forbade wearing shorts; he won anyway. More wins followed as Landis continued to enjoy the sport. Disturbed at what he considered a "useless" endeavour such as racing bikes, his father tried to discourage him from participating by giving him extra chores. This left Landis no time to train during the day, so he often sneaked out to train at night—sometimes at 1 or 2 a.m.—in the freezing cold. Landis' father got a tip off that he had been going out at night. He was unable to appreciate his son's passion for cycling and thought that he might be getting into drugs or alcohol and often followed Landis at a distance to make sure he wasn't getting into trouble. Today, Landis' father has become a hearty supporter of his son and regards himself as one of his biggest fans.[2][3]

"Master of the Mountains"

Landis won the first mountain bike race he entered and in 1993 was crowned junior national champion. He told friends he would win the Tour de France one day. At age 20 Landis moved to Southern California to train full time as a mountainbiker. He soon established a reputation for toughness—once finishing a race riding on only his rims.[4] However, his training regimen resembled that of a road biker, and in 1999 he switched to road cycling and performed well enough that Lance Armstrong recruited him to U.S. Postal and chose Landis to ride alongside him in three straight Tour de France wins from 2002 to 2004. In the 2004 edition, Landis led Armstrong and a few of Armstrong's main rivals over the final climb of stage 17, putting on such an impressive display of strength that comedian Robin Williams dubbed him the "Mofo of the Mountains." Landis's performance led some observers to peg him as a possible team leader and future winner of the maillot jaune. Landis left US Postal later that year after receiving a better contract offer from the Phonak squad.

In the 2005 Tour de France, Landis finished ninth overall in the General Classification, his highest finish at that time in the Tour.

Landis started the 2006 season strongly, with overall wins first in the Amgen Tour of California, and then in the prestigious Paris-Nice, both week-long stage races. Winning Paris-Nice gave Landis 52 points in the UCI ProTour individual competition, starting him off in first place for 2006. Landis continued with his display of strength with another overall win in the Ford Tour de Georgia April 18 to 23, where he not only won the time trial, but did not lose any time to anyone on the most difficult climbing stage, Brasstown Bald, (where Tom Danielson beat him across the uphill finish line, but with the same time).

2006 Tour de France

In the lead-up to the 2006 Tour de France, Landis was widely mentioned as a dark horse contender, but the widespread assumption was that Ivan Basso or Jan Ullrich, the second and third place finishers in 2005, would win. But in the days immediately before the race, the Operación Puerto doping case led to Basso and Ullrich being withdrawn from the race, leaving Landis among a field of possible favorites.

Landis's Tour did not begin encouragingly. When his turn came to leave the start house in the Prologue time trial, he was not even there, having suffered a cut tire on his rear disc wheel. He finished ninth in the stage, just 9 seconds behind winner Thor Hushovd. His bad time trial luck continued during Stage 7, a 52 kilometre individual time trial to Rennes when a handlebar malfunction forced him to switch bikes midway through the race. Nevertheless, Landis managed to finish second, one minute behind T-Mobile's Serhiy Honchar of Ukraine, while also gaining an important time advantage over other top contenders for the overall victory in this year's Tour as it headed into the first mountain stages.

In the second mountain stage, he was among the few that could hold on to the fierce pace set by the riders of the Rabobank team, and came in third, along with Denis Menchov and Levi Leipheimer. He held the yellow jersey until Stage 13, when he and his team let a group get a half-hour lead in the stage, allowing his former teammate Óscar Pereiro, to take the overall lead by 89 seconds. The assumption was that Pereiro, who had lost half an hour in the three previous mountain stages, would not be a serious contender in the Alps, and that it would be easy to win the jersey back. And indeed, in Stage 15, on the slopes of the infamous l'Alpe d'Huez, Landis outrode Pereiro by almost two minutes, regaining the jersey and a 10-second overall lead in the process.

However, the next day, Landis "bonked", as cracking is often called in cycling, on the final ascent to the summit of La Toussuire, losing ten minutes, and fell from first to eleventh place in the general classification, ending up eight minutes behind the overall leader, Pereiro. Landis reportedly had a lapse in concentration and failed to eat enough during the ride in this stage.[5] With only two more stages where the GC could reasonably be contested (Stage 18 being relatively flat) remaining in the Tour, one more mountain stage and one time trial, almost everyone paying attention assumed his disastrous performance would mark the end of his chance to win the Tour, or even achieve a place on the podium (Eddy Merckx being a notable exception, who bet 100 euros against 75 to 1 odds that Landis would still win the Tour; note also that his son, Axel Merckx, was on Landis's Phonak team for the 2006 Tour). [6]

On the following day's Stage 17, however, Landis stunned the cycling world with a 120 km solo breakaway attack that has been called "one of the most epic days of cycling ever seen,"[7] earning comparisons to the famed rides of Eddy Merckx. At one point on the course, he was 9'04" clear of maillot jaune-wearing Pereiro, and ultimately won the stage by nearly six minutes over Team CSC's Carlos Sastre and took more than seven minutes out of Pereiro's lead. At the end of the day, Landis sat in third place overall, 18 seconds behind Sastre and just 30 seconds back from the time of the Tour leader — leads that were well within the range of what he could overcome in the final time trial.

And indeed, in Stage 19, a 57 km individual time trial, Landis finished third, 1'29" ahead of Pereiro and 3'31" ahead of Sastre to reclaim the yellow jersey. Landis retained the lead through Stage 20, the "procession" into Paris, to win the 2006 Tour de France by 57 seconds.

Floyd Landis is the third American to win the event (Lance Armstrong, 7 wins; Greg LeMond, 3 wins) since the race began in 1903. Landis' win marks the 8th in a row by an American starting with Armstrong's first Tour win in 1999. It also means that Americans have won the race 11 times in the 26 years since Jacques Boyer became the first American to ride in the Tour in 1981.

Doping investigation

On July 27, 2006 the Phonak Cycling Team announced that Landis tested positive in a drug test given to him after Stage 17, as part of the Tour's standard doping precautions. He tested positive for an abnormally high ratio of the hormone testosterone to epitestosterone during Stage 17 of the race. On the same day the allegations were made public, Landis denied doping in order to win the 2006 Tour de France.

Landis has been suspended pending the submission and results of a second test or "B sample." His team has stated he will be fired from the team should his B sample prove positive.[8] The exact T/E ratio measured for Landis has been made public by his team as 11:1 [citation needed]. There is some debate as to whether the test necessarily proves doping.[9] In particular, hypothyroidism, which Landis has, causes low levels of SHBG, which in turn can cause relatively high levels of testosterone (since testosterone must bind with SHBG before it can be biologically processed out of the system). The net result is an accumulation of testosterone and an abnormally high T/E ratio. Even though he is on medication for his hypothyroidism, thyroid levels are notoriously unstable in those with hypothyroidism, even if taking medication[citation needed].

However, legendary American cyclist Greg LeMond was quoted in at least one source [10] as doubting whether there was much chance of further doping tests clearing Landis. LeMond however is well known for his lack of support of any rider defending doping accusations, including Lance Armstrong. LeMond feels strongly that in the later stages of his career he was cheated by the advent of doping in cycling.

Hip ailment

The powerful performance of Landis up to Stage 16 of the Tour de France and his comeback in Stage 17 is particularly notable given his hip ailment, osteonecrosis, which was revealed in an article in The New York Times during the 2006 Tour de France.[11] This deterioriation in the ball joint of his right hip stemmed from diminished blood supply and constricted blood vessels caused by scar tissue. The original injury that led to the formation of the scar tissue was a femoral neck fracture sustained in a bicycle crash during a training ride near his Southern California home in October 2002. Landis kept the ailment secret from his teammates, rivals, and the media until an announcement made while the 2006 Tour was underway. This same ailment also affected former multi-sport athlete Bo Jackson and American Football player Brett Favre.

Landis rode the 2006 Tour with the constant pain of the injury, which he described thus: "It's bad, it's grinding, it's bone rubbing on bone. Sometimes it's a sharp pain. When I pedal and walk, it comes and goes, but mostly it's an ache, like an arthritis pain. It aches down my leg into my knee. The morning is the best time, it doesn't hurt too much. But when I walk it hurts, when I ride it hurts. Most of the time it doesn't keep me awake, but there are nights that it does."[12]

During the Tour, Landis was medically approved to take cortisone for this injury, a medication otherwise prohibited in professional cycling for its known potential for abuse. Landis himself called his win "a triumph of persistence" despite the pain.[13]

Having won the Tour, Landis plans to undergo hip replacement surgery. It is unclear whether he will be able to compete at a professional level following rehabilitation.


Physical statistics

  • Height: 5'-10" (1.78m)
  • Weight: 150 lb (68kg)

Major results

NOTE: Because of a recent positive test for an abnormally high ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone during stage 17, it is possible that Landis's 2006 Tour de France statistics could be revoked.

2006 - Phonak Hearing Systems
  • 1st overall – Tour de France
    • Yellow jersey, General Classification leader during Stages 12, 13, 16 and 20.
    • 1st, Stage 17 (Combativity award)
    • 3rd, Stage 19 (ITT)
    • 4th, Stage 15
    • 3rd, Stage 11
    • 2nd, Stage 7 (ITT)
    • 9th, Prologue (ITT)
  • 1st overall – Tour de Georgia
    • 1st, Stage 3 (ITT) – Tour de Georgia
  • 1st overall – Paris-Nice
  • 1st overall – Tour of California
    • 1st, Stage 3 (ITT) – Tour of California
  • 1st, Profronde van Stiphout (post-Tour criterium)
2005 - Phonak Hearing Systems
  • 3rd overall and Stage 3 win – Tour de Georgia
  • 9th overall – Tour de France
  • 11th overall – Dauphiné Libéré
    • 4th, Prologue and Stage 3 – Dauphiné Libéré
    • 5th, Stage 4 – Dauphiné Libéré
2004 - U.S. Postal Service
  • Overall – Volta ao Algarve
    • Stage 5 – Volta ao Algarve
    • 2nd, Stage 4 – Volta ao Algarve
  • Team time trial – Tour de France
  • Team time trial – Vuelta a España
  • 3rd, Stage 5 – Paris-Nice
  • 3rd, Stage 4 – Ronde Van Nederland
  • 4th, Stage 19 – Tour de France
  • 5th, Stage 17 – Tour de France
    • 8th, Stage 3 – Criterium International
    • 8th, Stage 3 – Dauphiné Libéré
  • 23rd overall – Tour de France
2003 - U.S. Postal Service
  • 77th overall – Tour de France
2002 - U.S. Postal Service
  • 2nd overall – Dauphiné Libéré
  • 3rd stage, Tirreno-Adriatico
  • 5th overall – Circuit de la Sarthe
  • 61st overall – Tour de France
2001 - Mercury Pro Cycling Team
  • Boulevard Road Race
  • 13th overall – Criterium International
    • 2nd, Stage 3 (ITT)
2000 - Mercury Pro Cycling Team
  • Overall – Tour du Poitou-Charentes
  • 4th overall – Tour de l'Avenir
  • 5th overall and 1 stage win – Tour de Langkawi
  • 6th – Prix des Bles d'Or (Mi-Août bretonne)
  • 8th – Prix du Lèon (Mi-Août bretonne)
  • 9th – Redlands Classic
1999 - Mercury Pro Cycling Team
  • 2nd overall and 1 stage win – Cascade Classic
  • 3rd overall – Tour de l'Avenir
  • 4th – Red Zinger Classic
  • 5th overall – GP Cycliste de Beauce
  • 7th – Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic

References

  1. ^ Whittle, Jeremy. "Tour de France: Landis keeps stars and stripes flying high over Paris", Times (London), 24 July 2006. Retrieved on 2006-07-24.
  2. ^ OLN Television broadcast of the 2006 Tour de France, July 22, 2006
  3. ^ The New American in Paris, page 5 Outside Magazine online, July 2006 issue
  4. ^ "Landis, Tiger rise to the occasion", Sierra Sun, 2006-07-23.
  5. ^ Willam Fotheringham, "After all the twists and turns a deserving ruler emerges from the anarchy", The Guardian, July 24, 2006.
  6. ^ Robbie Hunter, "Any more doubts as to who is the strongest?", Robbie Hunter's diary, 20.07.2006 22:31
  7. ^ "Reactions to Landis's launch", VeloNews, July 20, 2006.
  8. ^ "Landis gives positive drugs test", BBC News, 2006-07-27.
  9. ^ van de Kerkhof DH, de Boer D, Thijssen JH, Maes RA, "Evaluation of testosterone/epitestosterone ratio influential factors as determined in doping analysis", Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 24(2):102-115, 2000 March
  10. ^ "Mom keeps the faith / LeMond: Take High Road", PE.com, 2006-07-27.
  11. ^ "What He's Been Pedaling", The New York Times, July 16, 2006.
  12. ^ "Landis's Hip Will Need Surgery After Bid for Tour", The New York Times, July 10, 2006.
  13. ^ Fotheringham, Alasdair, "Cycling: Landis the Tour king celebrates a triumph of survival", The Independent, 2006-07-24. Retrieved on 2006-07-28. (subscription required)

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