Opinion: Landis finds soapbox at Wall Street Journal

According to an article posted at Wall Street Journal online, Floyd Landis has engaged “in hours of interviews with The Wall Street Journal in May.”  This article is apparently a distilled transcript of those interviews with little to no commentary on any other points of view aside from a couple “no comment” or “I deny everything” quotes.  To be fair to the Wall Street Journal, however, those accused in Landis’s statements have been fairly tight lipped on the issue by choice.

I’ve approached this issue with some skepticism since it first broke.  I’ll agree with other statements that have been made that the credibility of Floyd Landis is somewhat in question.  However, I’m neither a Texas flag waving Armstrongian, nor a Texas flag burning anti-Armstrongian.  While I would find it very disappointing, I concede the possibility that Lance Armstrong may have a couple of bags of blood hanging in his closet next to whatever skeleton may also be there.  It was with this open mindset that I was actually looking forward to reading this article – hoping journalistic impartiality would prevail at the WSJ and I could get some compelling information.

Instead, I got hundreds of words of direct quotes from Floyd Landis, followed by this gem:

One evening during the camp, a handful of team members piled into a black Chevrolet Suburban for a night on the town, with Mr. Armstrong serving as the master of ceremonies.

Mr. Landis had met Mr. Armstrong briefly in the past, but most of what he knew about the world’s most famous cyclist was what he’d read in Mr. Armstrong’s 2000 memoir, “It’s Not About the Bike.” Mr. Landis had devoured the book, in which Mr. Armstrong chronicled his comeback from testicular cancer and portrayed himself as a modest and devoted family man.

Mr. Armstrong took the wheel of the Suburban and roared off through the streets. Stop signs didn’t rate more than a tap of the brake, Mr. Landis said. Some traffic signals were wholly ignored and speed limits went unheeded. In the middle of the trip, Mr. Landis said, another rider asked, jokingly, “Are there no cops in this town?”

The journey ended at the Yellow Rose, a strip club on the north side of town. Don King, the club’s general manager, said Mr. Armstrong and other cyclists on his teams have been coming to the club for about a decade. The riders were ushered into a booth. They ordered drinks and mingled with the dancers.

Later that night, some of the cyclists drove downtown to the offices of the agency that represents Mr. Armstrong. There, the party accelerated, according to Mr. Landis. Four strippers arrived at the offices with two bouncers and began performing a private show for the cyclists and others, he said. Mr. Landis and another young rider who attended, Walker Ferguson, said some people were snorting what appeared to be cocaine.

It is right here that any hope of honest journalism faded.  Notice it is no longer clear in the article that these allegations are the unsubstantiated words of Floyd Landis.  Instead, reporters Rhaveeed Albergotti And Vanessa O’Connell have shifted to present Landis’s claims as fact.  It was at this point my opinion started to shift towards one side of this debate.  Given that parties, strippers and cocaine actually have nothing to do with doping in pro cycling, this started to take on the odor of a smear campaign from a disgruntled Floyd Landis as some have claimed.  And of the Wall Street Journal realizing the sensational nature of those claims and throwing journalistic due diligence out the window in favor of sensational words.  Shameful.

All of this being said, there is definitely a part of me left with a nagging soundtrack of Perl Jam’s song “Jeremy” ringing in my head as I mull all this over.  “Floyd Landis spoke in… class today.

Armstrong confirms – this his last tour

Considering the fact that Lance Armstrong has helped to morph Twitter into pro cycling’s apparent news outlet of choice, it seems fitting that he would chose that form to officially confirm that this – the 2010 Tour de France – would be his last.

Note: Armstrong's next tweer read " Doh, sorry, meant 'my' final Tour."

However, somehow I suspect it will not be the last of the biting commentaries on the cycling world as a whole.  Versus channel, I’m looking in your direction:

Floyd Landis still racing

There are probably few that would argue against the statement that Floyd Landis is tenacious.    No amount of controversy will seem to keep this guy out of bike races (although it has kept him out of a few teams) – and the recent media swarm is no exception.

True to form, Mr. Landis showed up in the Nevada City Classic.  Joe Lindsey had this to say in the Odds and Ends section of the June 21st Boulder Report:

-Way far away over there on the West Coast, Floyd Landis suited up for the Nevada City Classic. He got fifth [correction] fourth, racing as an independent and wearing – you choose whether it’s irony or not – an “Arrogant Bastard Ale” jersey. [sic]

Garmin-Transition Tour de France roster set

Garmin-Transitions announced their 2010 Tour de France roster.

  • Julian Dean
  • Tyler Farrar
  • Ryder Hesjedal
  • Robbie Hunter
  • Martijn Maaskant
  • David Millar
  • Johan Van Summeren
  • Christian Vande Velde
  • David Zabriskie

Tyler Farrar provides a welcome set of sprinting credentials in a field that is becoming thin on short-distance speed freaks.  The absence of Tom Boonen (QuickStep) and Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo) were announced earlier this week – both due to injuries.

Schlecks leaving the team

It has been announced that both Frank and Andy Schleck, along with the current Saxo Bank Directerr Sportif Kim Andersen, will be forming a new team at the conclusion of this season.  News of this intended move is nothing new and not surprising.  This represents yet another pivotal change for the current Team Saxo Bank following the announcement of an end of the relationship with the Denmak based financial institution as the title sponsor.

Andy Schleck down but not out after training ride crash

Older brother Frank Schleck posted a photo on his TweetPhoto stream of a banged up Andy Schleck.  According to a report on VeloNews.com the tumble took place on a training ride and resulted in no serious injuries that might threaten involvement in the upcoming Tour de France.

Andy Schleck (@andy_schleck) himself reported the incident on twitter:

Was out training with@schleckfrank hit a big bump in the road, went down pretty hard,lost quit lot of skin all over my body but I be okay

Frank Schleck (@schleckfrank) also commented:

@andy_schleck went down in training this morning I was really scared.tought about tdf,but finally its just skin n wounds.autch.he is ok

However, all of this happened one day before the Luxembourg national championship race.  It remains to be seen if Andy will be participating in that event.

Haussler also out of Tour de France due to knee problems

Pro cycling team Cervelo Test Team announced today that Heinrich Haussler will not be participating in the 2010 Tour de France due to knee problems exacerbated by his crash in the Tour de Suise (see cyclingnews.com for more details on that.)  This, along with a similar announcement by Tom Boonen of Quickstep, represents two strong sprinters that will not be participating in the Tour de France, and site that nasty Tour de Suisse crash as part of the cause.

Mark Cavendish – who was penalized for causing that Tour de Suise crash – ultimately pulled out of the Tour de Suise due not to inuuries, but repoted “family reasons” in addition to his injuries. However, riders on the very next stage after the Tour de Suise crash did make a gesture of protest by delaying the race.  Still unannounced at the time of this writing is the final roster for Columbia in the Tour de France.

In light of all of these events, it seems assured that right or wrong, any successful performance by Mark Cavendish in this year’s Tour de France will be met with voices of frustration and protest given the unfortunate absences of Boonen and Haussler.

Tendinitis keeps Tom Boonen out of the Tour de France

According to Velo News, QuickStep rider Tom Boonen will not be participating in this years Tour de France due to “patellar tendinitis in his left knee” [VeloNews].

Tom Boonen, After Stage 1 Crash, Amgen Tour of California

Boonen himself cites the injury has going back to the final sprint crash in the Tour de Suise and the crash in Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California.

After three days of rest, yesterday I trained for five hours on the parcour of the national championship in Leuven. The knee pain has always accompanied me. During the last hour of training I had to stop more than once because of the pain. Everything began with the crash in California and the situation became even worse after the fall in Switzerland. [VeloNews]

At the time of this writing, the official QuickStep website had not yet posted anything regarding this announcement.

Team RadioShack – There’s an app for that

Pro cycling information flows across the twitterverse – for better or for worse.  Major races give up-to-the-minute, GPS fueled race position information.  But what if you want to know every single detail of what Team RadioShack is doing at any given moment?  Well, thanks to bikereviews.com I now know – there’s an app for that.

Saxo Bank Announces TDF 2010 Lineup

Team Saxo Bank announced their lineup for the 2010 Tour de France.  No huge surprises really:

  • Fabian Cancellara
  • Andy Schleck
  • Fränk Schleck
  • Jens Voigt
  • Stuart O’Grady
  • Matti Breschel
  • Chris Anker Sørensen
  • Jakob Fuglsang
  • Nicki Sørensen
  • Gustav Larsson – on standby in case of injury

Team owner Bjarne Riis is quoted on the Team Saxo Bank website as saying:

We have ten riders on our Team of which all are ready and fit to do the race and that has made the job of selecting the line-up extremely difficult. That’s why the decision has been made of tactical reasons. It has been a problem of pure luxury but it’s not easy telling a rider to stay home when you know he would have done a great job in the race. However, we are now looking forward to a Tour de France with Team Saxo Bank in front of the race.