News feature, December 22, 2004
As Christmas week began, Cyclingnews finally caught up with a busy Floyd Landis, who has definitively decided to stay with Team Phonak Hearing Systems for 2005. Landis just returned from Switzerland a week ago, where he attended Phonak team meetings to discuss the difficult situation on the team going into 2005. Although constructed to be a major ProTour team, Phonak's ProTour license application was not accepted by the UCI's Professional Cycling Council in November, nor accepted on appeal early in December. Since then, Phonak riders and staff have scrambled to figure out what 2005 will have in store for the Swiss squad.
Since his return from snowy Switzerland, Landis has been training in the sunny 80 degree Fahrenheit weather in southern California. Floyd was at the Trek Superstore in San Diego this Saturday for a personal appearance where 200 fans showed up, but we missed him there and Cyclingnews finally caught up with Landis when he had just finished an early morning ride with his friend and former Mercury teammate Mike Sayers, who was travelling from his home in Arizona to see his parents for Christmas in his hometown of Sacramento, CA.
Cyclingnews: Floyd, you just got back from Switzerland; what's up with Phonak?
Floyd Landis: I've been back for a week and I have decided to stay with the Phonak team. I want to make the best of the situation; I was at the team meetings near Zurich and saw the other riders and went over everything with the team management. Sure, I had some other opportunities but I decided to stay. It was not an easy decision, but I'm happy with it. In many ways, it wasn't Phonak's fault that they didn't get into the ProTour in 2005 and I still believe that they have good intentions. Things should work out...and it's sad for cycling if a guy like Andy Rihs is out. He cares a lot about the sport and his team.
CN: When did you decide to stay with Phonak? What was going through your mind before you left for Switzerland?
FL: We did a lot of talking before on the phone, so when I got on the plane I had already made up my mind to stay. The purpose of the meetings were to have a clearer picture of what is happening on the team. When I got there, I spent time with everybody. My soigneur [from US Postal], Freddy Viane, was there and Victor Hugo Pena; Robbie Hunter was there and he's a nice guy. So I found that everyone was pretty much in the same situation as me. It seemed like the general consensus was that we would all stay and make the best of the situation on the team next season.
CN: What about Tyler Hamilton? Did you find it somewhat strange that he wasn't there at the Phonak team meeting?
FL: Not really; but I will say that I would have liked to have had him around... I wish he had been there but that's just the way it is. I wish Tyler the best. I've been on an American team where I've been the only American at the race so Phonak is no problem that way.
CN: So what is the next step for you with Phonak? What does your program look like so far for 2005?
FL: We have a ten day team training camp in Spain that starts January 10th. Then we'll see what shapes up. Probably Paris-Nice and Criterium Internationale. Then I'll probably come back to the States for a while, then return to Europe for the Dauphine Libere; that's as much as we have planned now.
CN: It's been a difficult few months for you, Floyd. Have you learned anything from this situation?
FL: Just to be patient and not try to force the situation; it's just impossible to predict what's going to happen. You have to take your chances and just pick the best team...in the end, it's best to take what you've got and make the best of it.
CN: So Floyd, what do you have planned until you head back to Europe?
FL: Just to relax with my family at home over the Christmas holidays; the weather has been good here in southern California. I'll probably visit my family back in Pennsylvania too, then head to training camp in Spain.
After a tumultuous fall season filled with uncertainty, Floyd Landis has made his choice and the talented American will try to make the best of a difficult situation at Team Phonak Hearing Systems in 2005.