Friday Night Soaps

by Rant on September 12, 2008 · 6 comments

in Floyd Landis, Jeff Adams, Lance Armstrong, Paralympic Games, Tour of Missouri

And now it’s time once again for our favorite soap opera … “As the Wheel Turns”. In tonight’s episode: Will Lance be able to stage a comeback? Will any team hire an aging, former Tour de France winner, who’s been away from the bike and out of competition for several years? And will his former teammate Floyd Landis find employment on the team currently known as Health Net-Maxxis? (Momentum Sports is probably glad not to have to worry about the team being affected by this scandal after they secure a new title sponsor. Then again, perhaps the reason Health Net will be dropping their sponsorship is because they have to pay a $25 million fine for improperly dropping subscribers’ coverage.)

Certainly, there’s been a lot of speculation about which team Floyd Landis will join once his suspension is up at the end of January, just over four months from now. Whether or not you think he did the crime, he’s done his time. Having served his time in the wilderness (literally, at times, with the ultraendurance mountain bike races he’s competed in), Landis will be able to compete as a professional cyclist come January 30th, 2009. Just in time to start the Tour of California, should his new team be invited to the race. If so, the first-time winner of the ToC may find himself facing a formidable opponent in Sir Lancelot the Austinian, winner of multiple Tours de France and general nemesis of L’Equipe reporter Damien Ressiot, among others.

The question is who will each racer be racing for? When it comes to Armstrong, the smart money is on the Astana cycling team, headed up by Lance’s old directeur sportif, Johan Bruyneel. Current speculation about Landis is that he will be on the soon-to-be former Health Net team. And speculation is that the new title sponsor will be Smith and Nephew, the makers of Landis’ artificial hip. If so, that would be a good way for the makers of the Birmingham Hip replacement to garner quite a bit of visibility, and it would certainly play into a marketing campaign aimed at younger people who might be in need of a hip replacement.

Of course, it’s all speculation at this point. Sure, Health Net team director Mike Tamayo has confirmed that negotiations are occurring, but it’s a long way from the negotiating table to a signed contract. Anything can happen before the papers are drawn up and the signatures are dry. One rather confused copy editor seems to be thinking that Landis and Armstrong might wind up on the same team. Maybe, however my gut feeling says not bloodly likely. But never say never.

No confirmation from the Landis camp on if or when a contract with Health Net-Maxxis will be signed, how long it might go for, and whether the new incarnation of the team will be purely a US domestic squad, or whether the team will compete in Europe, too. Pez seems to think that the contract is for two years. If so, that would jive with the amount of time that ProTour teams are supposed to avoid hiring him (due to their code of ethics, such as it is). Of course, certain developments earlier this year suggest that the ProTour may be a dead concept, or at least on life support. That being the case, are the remaining teams still bound to avoid hiring a rider convicted of doping violations for two years after his suspension ends?

Lots of speculation going on. Not much in the way of hard facts. Lance Armstrong says he will announce the details of his comeback sometime after September 24th. No word yet on when Floyd Landis will be announcing the details of his comeback. With both riders set to return to action in 2009 — assuming there are teams who will hire Lance and Floyd — the professional cycling scene will be quite interesting to watch.

Somewhere across the pond, there’s a grand tour happening right about now. Egoi Martinez is keeping the Vuelta’s golden fleece warm for whoever the eventual winner might be (Contador, perhaps? Valverde’s hopes seem to have faded from what I’ve read.) And down in my home state, there’s the Tour of Missouri, where Garmin-Chipotle’s Christian Vande Velde holds an 18 second lead over Michael Rogers of Team Columbia. Also across the water, in the other place I call home, there’s a small race called the Tour of Britain going on.

Check back again soon for the next installment of … “As the Wheel Turns.” And be sure to point your browser to ParalympicSport.TV to catch Canadian Jeff Adams as he competes in the 1500-meter wheelchair races on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Will he win the gold? Or will one of his competitors edge Adams out? Tune in to find out. For more information on times, see the previous post.

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William Schart September 13, 2008 at 6:27 pm

ToM report: Cavendish has won another stage in St. Charles, and Vande Velde still is tops in GC.

Luc September 14, 2008 at 2:57 am

Hey Rant,
Quite exciting news about LA getting back on the bike. When I saw his result from the Leadville 100 I thought at the time that he still had it. There was one section of the course where Dave Wiens has never rode up before in his 6 previous wins and LA encouraged him to do so, and they rode it up together. He still has the legs so it will be very interesting. It will answer a number of questions. Can an older athlete still dominate in cycling after a 3 year lay off? I think this is a physiological question and should be very interesting to see the results from that. Can he still hold the dominance, the domineering influence over the peloton that he once had? There will be many that will want to drag him down particularly some of the media so it will be very interesting to see the print.
He wants to raise awareness for cancer but I think that he also wants to prove the naysayers wrong. If he was doping when everyone else was doping (look at the list of casualties in the top 10 the last year he won) then he was the best of the dopers. With the new bio passport, everyone is technically clean so he wants to show that he can also dominate in this new squeaky clean format. I think he has lots to gain out of this personally as well as for his foundation. Interesting times ahead. Will Landis be there with him. I doubt it.
Rant, just got back from a vacation in France and drove up Le Geant the Provence, Mont Ventoux. At every turn it was taking my breath away (and I was driving) and I would let out a “Geezus”. 21km, 1610 metre height gain. At the top I started talking to a cyclist who had just finished. He said he’d visited the mountain a few years previously and wished he’d done it then. So with that in mind I convinced my wife she would be a great support car driver. The next day I rented a carbon fibre bike, 27 gears and as it turned out 26 unnecessary ones. By the 4km mark the mountain had not yet started and there was only a 2.3% elevation and I was already mildly redlining. By the time I was halfway up I was painfully suffering. By the time I made it out of the forest and onto the moonscape I had clearly bonked. “Where’s the JD?”. Somehow my spin classes had not prepared me for any of this. There was a rider with shaved and tree trunk sized legs who had just passed me now pushing his bike. He got back on and as if in slow motion pedalled away. The winning time in the 2004 Dauphine Libere T T was 55:51 by Iban Mayo. Armstrong was 5th, at 1:57 back and Landis was 14th at 4:09. My time? Well I would have been soundly disqualified but hey, I made it to the top. But there is always next year and with a little preparation………

Rant September 14, 2008 at 8:17 pm

Luc,
You pose some interesting questions. Does Lance still have what it takes? Well, he’s always had the reputation of being someone who trains harder than most others, and comes to the Tour well prepared. I’ll be curious how the Landis/Lance matchup will play out at the Tour of California. Floyd’s only been out of road competition for a couple of years, with Lance being out of it for an extra year. Who’s going to have the early season form? I’m certainly not going to be placing any bets.
I like you story of Ventoux. Some day, I’d like to take a ride up the “hill” for myself. Preferably not during a brutally hot day in July. I’m sure I’ll be able to find something to leave at the memorial to Tommy Simpson on the way. By the time I’d reach it, I’m sure I’d be quite well cooked. I’d also like to ride L’Alpe d’Huez and a few of the other storied climbs. Just to see how tough they are. I have no illusions about how long it would take.
William,
Thanks for the ToM report. How’d the last day go? Was it broadcast on any of the local stations?

William Schart September 14, 2008 at 9:32 pm

They had to shorten the course, revising the circuit in St. Louis to avoid Forest Park, which was flooded. There was quite a lot of flooding in STL today, but apparently the rain held off. Francesco Chicchi won the stage and Vande held on for the GC win.

No live TV coverage here that I could find and I couldn’t get the supposed web feeds to work for me this year.

It would be interesting to be able to ride some of the storied mountains of the Tour. I have ridden some big mountains in New Mexico and Colorado, over 10,000 feet. Me experience is that the altitude really kicks in over 9,000 feet, but I’ll add the caveate that at the time I rode these, I was living over 5,000 full time. It was sort of a strange experience – you’re sucking air big time, but your legs aren’t really working that hard, simply because you can’t get the O2 to really be able to stomp on the pedals.

Debby September 15, 2008 at 12:51 pm

Good times are coming, Rant. I’m already looking forward to 2009! But here’s hoping Lance and Floyd not only have a biological passport, but a biological library of their health records. With the current crew, they’re going to need it.

Rant September 15, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Debby,
Ain’t that the truth! 😉 I sure hope they’ve both amassed piles and piles of health records, just in case.

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