Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday OverThink #7, courtesy of Floyd Landis

The 32nd Joe Martin Stage Race is nearly upon us. For you non-locals, it’s a professional cycling event held right here in Fayetteville; look for it May 7-10. Some cycling enthusiasts are all aflutter over the news that Floyd Landis will be here to participate in the upcoming event.

In this news story, the race director claims that Landis is, next to the vaunted Lance Armstrong, the most well known American cyclist. I argue that distinction should go to George Hincapie. Not only is he an amazing athlete, he is a strangely cool guy. Hincapie married a Podium Girl,* launched his own sportswear line, and lives in South Carolina where he's building a "professional training village" for cyclists. Talk about living the dream. By contrast, Landis has been off the scene for years, what with that whole getting banned from professional cycling for doping thing.

I guess you could say Landis is more memorable. He was a soft-cell feature story: a former Mennonite who bucked family and religion to follow his dream of cycling and won the biggest bike race in the world. Until the routine blood-test results came back. After being found guilty of doping, even after appeal, stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, fired from his cycling team, divorced, and banned from professional cycling through January 2009, Landis is back. He will be racing in Fayetteville as a member of Team OUCH. How appropriate.

I don’t wonder at his gall in returning to professional cycling. The dude has staggering mortgages and legal fees to pay. Apart from those electric Amish fireplaces, I don’t know what else Mr. Landis is qualified to do. However, I disagree with celebrating a cheater coming to town.

*Podium Girls are the hot chicks who pose with and smooch the race winners post-event and hand out the prizes.

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