Ever since leaving the US Postal team at the end of 2004, Floyd Landis has been working towards emulating the Tour-winning feats of his former leader Lance Armstrong. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes talked to him at the Phonak pre-season training camp and discovered that he is raring to go in 2006.
This weekend's start to the Amgen Tour of California sees Floyd Landis get his season under way on home soil. The 30 year-old is in his second year with the Phonak team and is hoping to step up to a higher level in 2006, with a stronger challenge in the Tour de France his main goal.
Landis finished a solid ninth in the race last time round and says that, having learned a lot from his first time as team leader for the race, he is confident that he can go quite a bit higher in the future. Indeed he believes that the top step of the podium is reachable if everything clicks just right.
"I think it is possible for me to win the Tour," he told Cyclingnews at the recent Phonak training camp in Mallorca. "I am not predicting I will win it, but if I get things go to plan and don't get unlucky, anything can happen there. It is three weeks [long] and it is possible that I can win. It is also possible that five, or six, or ten other guys can win. That is what makes it such a great race. But I believe that I can do it, if things go right."
Landis was in strong form at the camp, showing good climbing legs in the hills and also a determination to get stuck in and do some high-intensity speedwork on the flat. The Tour is still quite a way off but the opportunity to do something on home soil means that he'd like to ride well before then.
"It is definitely good to do well at home," he elaborated. "The objective is the Tour, but if those two [the Tour of California and Tour of Georgia] fit into that plan, then so be it. I should be in decent shape for the Tour of California. The Tour of Georgia finishes a week or 10 days before the Giro, so I don't know - I will see how it works out."
In a bid to gain extra strength before the Tour, Landis will join such other big-name riders such as Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso in the 2006 Giro d'Italia. He's finalised what should be his program for the first half of the season, with everything being carefully worked out to get him into peak shape come July.
"Right now, I plan to do California, then Paris-Nice, Criterium International, the Tour of Georgia again. So everything is the same until then. Then, after that, I will probably do the Giro and the Tour. If I do the Giro, and I probably will, it will just be to ride. No other agenda whatsoever...I don't think it would be wise to try to win both. It has happened before, but it is rare. For an American, the only thing that really matters is the Tour; that is the biggest thing in all of cycling. So we will take a risk and gamble on that, I think that is the best thing to do."
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