An interview with Floyd Landis, July 19, 2006
It takes a big man to take the maillot jaune, but perhaps an even bigger one to emerge from his hotel room to face the press after having the golden fleece so cruelly taken away from him. Anthony Tan found out what Floyd Landis had to say a few hours after a very bad day in yellow.
"First of all, I want you to believe me when I say I have respect for you guys, because this is the last thing I want to do," began Landis. "Anyway, what are the questions... I think I can take a guess," he said with wry smile.
Q: What happened?
FL: I had a bad day on the wrong day. The team did a good job in the beginning; I suffered from the beginning but I tried to hide it... In the end, I couldn't go.
Q: Why do you think it happened?
FL: Er, sometimes you don't feel well. Sometimes it's on the wrong day - today was not a good day to have a bad day... What can I say...
Q: What are you thinking about now?
FL: Stage 18, 19... whatever it is (half-laughs, referring to the time trial)
Q: It was heartbreaking to watch you on that final climb - was there a point where you gave up?
FL: Umm... no. I was struggling before that, I tried to hide it, but once I was dropped, that was that. I felt very, very bad; I didn't expect to stay close to the leaders. I did what I could; I didn't give up, I kept fighting, but I didn't have much left, so... you saw what happened.
Q: You said you had difficulties - did you bomb, did you not eat enough, because you were so strong on the other mountain stages? It was definitely not normal for you?
FL: Yeah, I don't think it was a problem with not eating enough; like I said, I wasn't good from the beginning. There was never a flat part where I could recover for 15 minutes, but that's how it goes.
Q: I'm sure this is a day you'd like to forget; how difficult is it to come out and even talk about it?
FL: (Smiles) Well ignoring it doesn't change anything...
Q: Have you thought about tomorrow at all?
FL: Yeah. It's another hard day; things change. You saw Pereiro was 30 minutes down, now he's in the lead again. I don't expect to win the Tour at this point; it's not easy to get back eight minutes. But I'll keep fighting - it's not over yet.
Q: How does it make you feel seeing Oscar in the yellow jersey again, after giving him 30 minutes?
FL: I'm happy for him, he's a friend of mine. And that's the way the Tour went. I said several times it doesn't matter what the others do - I'm focused on what I do - but seeing Oscar in the jersey certainly doesn't disappoint me; he's a good person and it's a good team.
Q: What do you do to deal with this at this point?
FL: Er... I don't know... drink some beers! (laughs) That's what I'm thinking about now!
I never assumed the Tour was won at any point; I said many times that anytime you can have a bad day, and I was trying to race conservatively every day I did feel good.
Q: If we were trying to turn this round on a positive note, can you come to terms with what you've achieved?
FL: I'm happy with the way it's gone; I'm proud of my team for standing behind me the whole time and risking everything on me - that's not easy to do. On the other hand, yeah, I'm disappointed - I'd be lying if I said 'Just forget about it'.
Q: Today had absolutely nothing to do with your hip - it wasn't bothering you?
FL: No, it was not a factor.
Q: Were you acting yesterday?
FL: No, I felt very good yesterday. If you think back to the Tours in the past, I've seen it happen several times with different people. Until now, I've felt well.
Q: Have you any regrets at the opportunities you had, you didn't make more of?
FL: No, I think I did everything I could do to win this Tour. I'd change this day if I could, but I don't know what I would of done differently, so I can't say I regret anything I did.
Q: Did you feel a lot of pressure to win this Tour?
FL: Um... no. It was goal of mine to win, we said we wanted to win; the pressure from outside didn't affect me - I don't think it had anything to do with today.
Q: You think what happened to you today, the situation could be very different for you tomorrow?
FL: Yeah, it could change for a lot of reasons and for a lot of different people. My chance to win the Tour is very small at this point, but I'm gonna fight, because you never know what's going to happen next.
Q: What about the others?
FL: Looks to me like Klöden has a very good chance; Sastre was also strong today, but it will hard for him to get time tomorrow, because it's not as difficult a stage as it was today. Pereiro was also good today... it will come down to the time trial, I think.
Q: Floyd, will this change the way you race in the future - your goals, the way you races?
FL: No. Bicycling racing is a big part of my life, but it doesn't change anything. I regret what happened today, but I don't regret anything I did, because I don't think I could've changed it.