Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Landis to start Cascade Cycling Classic

ABC's Nightline to shadow the controversial cyclist

Organizers of the Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic confirmed Floyd Landis will participate in the six-stage race set to take place from July 20-25 in Bend, Oregon. The American television network ABC's program Nightline agreed to highlight the controversial cyclist, bringing the event nation-wide publicity.

"I got word yesterday that he was interested in coming and that he was trying to put together a little composite team," said the race's Executive Director Chuck Kenlan.. "That fell through because he couldn't come up with enough money to get the other guys up here so he will be flying solo. I'm not sure what jersey he is going to wear. When I spoke with him today he didn't say anything about that."

It will be a rare public appearance from Landis who in May admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs throughout most of his professional cycling career, including his 2006 Tour de France victory. He was stripped of that title after testing positive for synthetic testosterone and vehemently denied doping for the last four years.

Aside from his own confession, Landis also implicated his previous teams and teammates of doping, including his former US Postal teammate Lance Armstrong and manager Johan Bruyneel.

Because that team was supported by a government agency, Landis' revelations have sparked a criminal investigation headed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) special agent Jeff Novitzky. According to Kenlan, it is not clear how ABC News Nightline will use its coverage of Landis' participation at the 30th annual Cascade Cycling Classic.

"Part of the deal was ABC News coming to do a Nightline program because they wanted to do a story on Floyd," Kenlan said. "I don't think they will be here all week but I'm not sure. I got a call from ABC News today and they were really vague on what the angle of their story was going to be, but you can only guess."

"It could be a double edged sword depending on how they spin their coverage," he added. "But, to have them cover a race in the city of Bend and the history of this race is so strong that hopefully that will come out in what ever they are going to do."

When asked if he was surprised to receive a phone call from Landis requesting a starting spot, Kenlan said, "With him, it is hard to be surprised. I've made it clear that he needs to be accessible to our local media which he wasn't last year. He needs to be available and be a player."

Landis registered for the Tour de Nez, held in Nevada in June and the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic held in Massachusetts in July, but did not start either event.

"As far as I'm concerned, the guy has a license and he has raced pretty well this year at a couple of races," Kenlan said. "My hope is that if he is going to be here that he is here to race his bike, put in a good effort, try to do something, and not try to make a circus out of our event. I'd like to see him racing and putting on a good show."

Landis started the season racing under with the Bahati Foundation Professional Cycling Team. Following Landis' doping admission, the team announced that they severed ties with Landis and financial backer Ouch Medical Center.

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