It all began with an invitation to a book signing...
"I'm contacting you on behalf of Book Revue, the independent bookstore in the heart of Suffolk County's Huntington Village, to let you and your members know about an author event you might be interested in. Thursday, June 28th at 7pm we'll be hosting 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis as he speaks about and signs his new book, Positively False.
In this new memoir, Landis describes his life from his years as a young boy in the Mennonite community to his days riding alongside Lance Armstrong and right up to the recent doping scandal that has haunted his career and taken over the headlines. He sets out to prove, once and for all, that he is innocent, and that his achievements have been mangled by the hands of what he believes are the unchecked governing bodies of cycling.
It promises to be a very interesting event. A controversial topic, perhaps, but certainly timely and intriguing, something that I imagine a group of cyclists might be interested in. I'd appreciate it if you could pass the word along to your readers, or, if there's a better way for me to reach out to them, then please let me know.
I hope to see some of your cyclists here!"
The Book Revue smack in the middle of Huntington Village is nothing short of a terrific book store. Their well stocked and extensive collection includes new titles and a terrific selection of collectible and rare editions as well. From the absolute retro feel, to the sculptures hanging from the ceiling, the Book Revue strikes you as just a great place to be of an evening. This evening proved even better than most. The weather was menacing with thunderstorms all over the area, but inquisitive cyclists would not be dissuaded from gathering to hear what Floyd Landis had to say.
What follows is a transcript of Floyd Landis' remarks and the subsequent Q & A.
Floyd Landis begins... Thank you guys, thank you very much and sincere apologies for making you wait longer than necessary. (weather delays) I really appreciate all you guys showing up tonight, you have no idea how good it makes me feel after what I have been through with my family and the people around me for the last year.
The reason I wrote the book, and I don't know how many of you guys have read it yet, the problem from the beginning of this 'was that a lot of American sports fans don't know much about Cycling and even people who follow cycling don't see a whole lot more in the United States apart from the Tour de France, and unfortunately the the doping story afterwards was even bigger than winning the tour itself. The only way for me really to get my whole story out there, the way I wanted it, although I tried through the press to get my story out, (you may not know this but I am not an exact PR Expert) the best way to get it out was to write it in a way that explained things from my point of view, and in light of my experiences growing up in rural Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and ending up wining the Tour de France. Then obviously a few chapters at the end about what I have been through for the last year dealing with these doping accusations and some details about that. But rather than go into too much detail my preference in what I'd like to do is to take questions and know what you guys would like to know about what might be in the book and what you might like to know about what hasn't been said in the press about my case or my life or anything like that. So I am here to take any questions you guys might have.
Q: You had that hip operation, what's the story behind that, are you good to go or what? Can you do what you did before or is it holding you back?
A: I broke my hip back in the winter of 2003. Often with a bad break of the femoral head or the hip you develop what is called a vascular necrosis. Basically what happens is the bone dies and the joint changes shape and it distorts the cartilage and you wind up needing a hip replacement. So, I did a lot of research and fortunately I had a lot of people around me who did a lot of the research for me and found out what the best option was. Because, it's not good to have to get a hip replacement at any age, but at a young age, it's more likely that you will need a revision later on, or a different joint in the event that that one wears out. We came to the conclusion that a hip resurfacing procedure was the best thing. I got what is called The Birmingham Hip. I had that done back in September, and I had a month to a month and a half of therapy and Some stress and some worries here and there, some pains but, since that it's back to feeling like nothing ever happened. Like I never broke it, it's better than it's been since I broke it. It doesn't limit me in any way from riding. The only thing preventing me from being in shape like I was a year before this is, dealing with this whole case. Physically I am fine and I am hopeful that very soon I can get back to racing.
Q: How did you get that problem with your hip, did you crash?
A: Yes it was a crash. Just riding my bike. Unfortunately all by myself. I don't like to admit that but... (laughter) I was the only one there. There's no one to blame... (continued laughter)
Q: In view of the number of competitors who have now admitted to doping, or who have been implicated in doping, do you have any estimates of the number of of the people in the peloton who are doping?
A: Well, honestly I can only speak for myself. I don't know what other guys do and certainly if they are doing it, they aren't going to tell anyone about it. I really don't believe it's any worse a problem than in a lot of other sports. Just cycling's way of dealing with it is to make everything public for better or worse. In my opinion it hurts the sport. It overwhelms what value the sport has and the beautiful parts of it. The beauty of cycling is that anybody can do it and start doing it at any age and improve for long periods of time just by virtue of riding your bike and it's therapy for a lot of things. It's a wonderful thing to be part of. Unfortunately right now the culture and the subject of cycling is about doping but, it doesn't deserve it more than any other sport and it's never going to be perfect. There is never going to be a situation where nobody tries to cheat. What needs to happen is that there needs to be an agency that enforces it that holds itself to a high standard of ethics, after all they are the ones enforcing the ethics. So when we get to that point I am hopeful that there will be a better state of competition with cycling. Right now, like I said it's not as bad as it appears because that's all anyone is talking about.
Q: (Recording error) A question regarding the "ComeBack" day on the tour when Floyd had a terrible day and followed up with the phenomenal break away that he held for the balance of the day.
A: I don't know if it was only the Cytomax, certainly me guessing what may have happened physically between the two days, having a very bad day, and followed by what could be a simply better day. In the tour it often happens that every one can have a bad day, including Lance. People regardless of whether you are the winner, or you're the guy helping the winner, you have a bad day, it's just not likely that it falls on the toughest mountain day of the tour and unfortunately when it that happens there's no place to hide. In a strange kind of way it worked out better that the day was so bad because had I only lost a minute or two minutes or three minutes, the rest of the field would not have let me go the next day. They would have not written me off completely, but having lost as much time as I did, the other guys decided it wasn't worth the risk and that I wasn't a threat to the general classification and ultimately they miscalculated things. It was equally as much of a tactical decision, as it was a physical effort. Yeah, in the end when the doping story came out, it made it that much more difficult for me to try to explain things certainly.
Q: Listening to the coverage and the commentary on TV, they are going 'This is the greatest achievement in the history of the Tour de France', did that really hurt you?
A: Yeah, well but they say that every year at some point so... (laughter)
Q: Lance was hammered by the French for years about doping and this and that and last year they cleared him of all doping. They said he's innocent. They just hammered him left and right. Why hasn't Lance ever stepped up to the plate for you?
A: No, he has. He hasn't come out many many times, but there have been cases, when ever he has made statement to the press and when ever he has been asked questions, he has been supportive. I've spoken to him. He is one of the few people that have gone though something similar to what I have been through. I don't know that they have targeted him specifically but, by the end, having won seven, you gotta kinda expect some people are going to get irritated with you. But certainly as far as support goes, he has been there.
Q: What's the status of the investigation into the alleged abuse?
A: The case right now... We had a hearing, you probably heard about it, about a month ago, and right now we are still waiting for the final decision. I expect it will be in the next week or two, I can't imagine that it will go through the Tour de France without knowing the winner of the previous yea. It's a lot of complicated signs, it was ten days long and because the arbitrators, there's three of them, who heard the case had a lot of work to do to sort through it all. So it's a matter of time, but it's coming up quickly now.
Q: What was it like to win the tour and what did you do for the first 24 hours? (Much Laughter)
A: Thank you! Well, the experience wasn't quite what I had in mind... But the first two days were... they were good! You know it's hard to explain, if you haven't done it, what if feels like to even race the tour. Everybody who races the tour, whether you won or you finished last is happy that it's over. Even more so than whether you won or not and that goes on for a matter of weeks generally. So for the two days that I'd won, I obviously knew that I had won and I was proud of having achieved a goal that I'd set for myself but, it was really not enough time to appreciate what had happened before I had to start dealing with the doping situation, Unfortunately, now I'm going to have to go back and do it again. (Many yeah's, hoots, and applause)
Q: Are there any teams interested in you now? Pending a good, positive result?
A: Uh, I haven't done much research into what teams would be interested and what wouldn't because it's hard for me to know when this whole thing will be over, I mean even in the event of an outcome in my favor, there's still a possibility of an appeal so, how long it takes to resolve this is still pretty up in the air. I don't want to make any promises and then not be able to race. I haven't done any research at all.
Q: (recording error) Question about the risk of letting Landis' Stage 17 tactics slip out.
A: He asked if there was a risk to tell the riders in the peloton what the strategy was going to be for the day on stage 17. What happened was, we made a plan in the bus as you often do, and I didn't make it perfectly clear to everybody on the team that I didn't want anybody to know what was going on so a couple of the guys told their friends and well in the peloton next thing you know, everybody knows. So, rather than get upset about it, since everyone knew what I was going to do. I decided we'd just pretend that it was a joke. (laughter) They weren't very happy about that because I can tell you, I've been in that position where I'm working for someone else in the race, and when you get to the last mountain stage in the tour, the last thing you want to do is race up the first mountain in the stage as hard as you can. And I certainly didn't make an friends doing that. But my only choice at that point was to pretend that it just didn't matter because it was just going to be a wild gamble. But ordinarily it not wise to tell everybody exactly what your plan is.
Q: It seems like Greg Lemond has a vendetta against Armstrong and/or you. Is it jealousy or what?
A: I can't really say. I don't know Greg Lemond. I spoke with him on the phone, you may have heard about that, (laughter - from the crowd, tell us about that) No I won't... He uh, I, I'll tell ya... a bit at the hearing, I feel bad... for both sides. For Greg Lemond, in the first place for whatever he's been through in his life. The things he told me about that he had to deal with as a kid. They're terribly unfortunate, and I couldn't possibly relate to that, I don't even know how to put that into words. And for our side, it's terrible, I wish it had never happened but, the fact is that all it did was take away from the facts of the case, and I really don't know what he was doing at that case in the first place. So to answer you question, I don't know what he has against Lance, I know that he's said some things in the press, and having raced with Lance, and having trained with Lance for many, many months, I can say with 100% certainty that the things he said are unjustified. What it is that he hopes to accomplish, or why he's so intent on taking down Lance, I really don't know, but I can't comment any more on his character, because I don't know him.
Q: Can you give us a sense of how in the stage deals are made, how people work together, are there alliances made between different teams on a daily basis to work together?
A: He was asking how the tactics work in the tour or in a stage race where different teams have different goals and how deals are made. There's all kinds of things going on just because there's obviously a mountain competition for the climber's jersey, and there's a sprinters jersey and the general classification, and then there's people who want to win just a stage. So, all those people have different ideas of how they expect the stage to go and how they expect (noise covers speech) mountain stage, often that person will help another team or expect something from that team and in return want something at a later stage to help them with their own competition. These kinds of dynamics go on all the time. It's impossible to figure it out watching it on television, in fact, within the race it's impossible to figure it out a lot of the time. But they do go on it's part of the sport, there's nothing wrong with it, it's not against the rules. But it makes it very difficult for people watching to understand what some of the guys are doing some of the time. Like I said, I'm in the race and a lot of the time I have no idea why the people are doing what they are doing. Maybe there is no logic some of the time. Anyway, it's confusing.
Q: Did you feel pressure while you were training for the Tour de France?
A: Did I feel pressure when I was training? Yeah, well I set a goal 10 years ago or fifteen years ago now, to try to get to the top in cycling, and the biggest race in the world is the Tour de France and so the pressure I felt was just from me, myself, wanting to reach my goal. The only time you really feel nervous or real pressure is in the race when things feel like they are out of control and you're tired and you're at your limit. That's when you really feel it. When you're training, just staying motivated is the key then.
Q: How do you keep going when you are bonked and at your limit? Do you just eat GU?
A: She asked, 'when you're at your limit, what do you do, do you just eat Gu?' But, sometimes that helps... (laughter) I'll tell you, I was lucky, the first time I did the tour was in 2002 and I wasn't The Guy, everyone's hope was on Lance and I was there to help him. Just by being there and being on the team that was expected to win, I had a built in motivation. I really couldn't figure out and still to this day, I can't understand how a lot of racers that are on teams that have no chance of winning and are just racing just to finish the race stay motivated every day. I really was lucky to be there with a team that had a chance of winning. That in itself is motivation. It's enough to keep you going, I'm pretty sure, had that not been the case, there would have been days when I probably would have stopped the first time I did it. It's common that people, the first few years they do the tour, don't finish. But I was forced to, not forced to but, I certainly wasn't going to be the one to let down Lance, he had won three before that. It's a totally different perspective when you race on a team like that as to just a team where you're hoping to finish.
Q: How many times did you finish the tour?
A: I've raced The Tour five times and finished five times. I've been lucky to get through a lot of crashes.
Q: Are you ready to race again soon?
A: I tell you, in my mind I really wish I was racing now. But physically, in dealing with all this stuff, I haven't had the time to train like I would need to to race. It would take a few months to get in shape. But I certainly am looking forward to it more than I have in the past, simply because I haven't been able to do it. I realize now how much fun it was because I can't do it.
Q: Can you tell us why a sprinter can be so fast and then not make it up a mountain? (Laughter)
A: I think they're just weak... (much more laughter) being so fast and not make it up a mountain... It doesn't make any sense to me but then on the other hand, when I try to sprint, they make me look stupid. For all the training I did and for all the times I tried to become good at sprinting, there was nothing I could do. It's just a totally different talent, either you can do it or you can't and that applies to sprinting and climbing.
Q: Who has the better weight to power ration? You or Armstrong?
A: Well of course me. (laughter) I don't know, Lance looks like he's... he hasn't been running without his shirt as much lately so... (Additional laughter) All right, I'll leave him alone now.
Q: What do you do to the bike between stages? Not between gearing, but do you put new tires and new chains on between each race or do they just more or less keep it?
A: Well we have mechanics that take care of it and they do change a lot of stuff. They maintain it and inspect everything. They don't need to change tires too much or chains, that kind of thing, they just do an inspection and make sure everything is working properly, but the bikes don't change a whole lot through out the race. The gearing changes a little bit on the flat stages and the mountain stages, but apart from that the bike's pretty much the same except for of course the time trial bikes, which is a totally different bike.
Q: As far as training, you say you're gonna take a few months to get back into shape, do you just ride and ride and ride and ride and ride... and ride? (laughter)
A: And ride... (more laughter)
Q: Do you ride every single day or alternate days, twice a day?
A: No, if you want to win the tour you have to ride pretty much every day for about fifteen years (Laughter).
Q: How many miles?
A: It varies a lot but the months leading up to the tour you need to ride between five an six hundred miles a week for several months and in those months every day you need to climb some big mountains. The way I saw it, what worked best for me was, if I wanted to get better at something, I had to do that. In order to get better at climbing, when I climbed more mountains, then I got better at climbing. Same with time trialing. That's obviously the most basic explanation, but that seems to be really what it boiled down to.
Q: First of all I would like to congratulate you for wining The Tour (Thank you sir) and the second thing, how do you deal with thousands of people in your face going up the mountains (laughter) it looks overwhelming how do you deal with that?
A: Well, yeah, those mountain stages as you can see on TV, there's a lot of people on the sides and it's impossible to control the crowds, I mean it wouldn't be plausible to try to set up fences for a hundred miles every day and take 'em down and set 'em up for the next day. So it's just something you have to deal with. Occasionally there's an incident but, as long as... The guys in the front are lucky, because they have cars and motorcycles going in front of them. So, as long as you are in the front you're ok. The guys in the back, they're out a luck on a lotta levels... so it's just one more reason to train a little harder before you get there. (laughter) The other thing is it's kind of deceiving on television, I mean a lot of the time it looks like they are really close... they run next to you but for the most part the fans are pretty respectful. They're not trying to get in the way.
Q: You raced The Tour five times, how about the classics, Paris-Roubaix, San Remo?
A: I've done I believe all of them, I've done Paris-Roubaix twice well, I did the first two thirds twice. So that counts, I think I did one and a third or one and two thirds - you get the idea. I did The Tour of Flanders once, I did Milan-San Remo a couple of times. They're beautiful races, the atmosphere there is the same as a stage at the tour. I mean the people are there, and it's inspiring. All the fans and... they're some of the very hardest races in the world, but you really have to focus on those if you want to do it right and to win those you have to sacrifice a lot of your season on that. For me it was never an objective. The times I did them I was there to help Hincappie, at Paris-Roubaix, and Milan-San Remo, so they were good experiences but they didn't end so well for me.
Q: So you don't race those as training for The Tour?
A: No I never saw that as a wise idea, some people seem to think racing those races is good training. Personally I would rather go train the big mountains. But it's a matter of personal preference.
Thank you guys, I wouldn't mind staying here all night answering personal questions, but (Applause) I'll be glad to sign books or pictures or whatever you guys have. Thanks for coming out.
This article an excerpt of Landis' Q&A. To read the full transcript:
::Click Here to Read the Full Transcript::