By Tim Maloney - European Editor in Paris
Cyclingnews caught up with Phonak's Floyd Landis in Paris, and it was the first and probably last time we'll see Floyd in a suit and tie until next year's Tour presentation. After seeing the parcours for the 93rd Tour De France, the smartly-clad Phonak rider told us that "Yes, I like this Tour course and it's a good one for me. I think it's too bad about the team time trial, because that's normally good for me, too; although the Tour is never easy and it's always going to be hard. I like the course better than the 2005 edition."
Landis has been a very busy man since we last saw him at the Interbike show in Las Vegas, almost a month ago. "I've started to ride my bike a bit...every year it gets harder to get started again if you stop for too long. I took six weeks off and that was enough for me. Last week I was in Malaga, Spain for a few days with Phonak for some team meetings, then I flew back home to California for one night, then went to Park City, Utah for Dave Zabriskie's wedding on Saturday. Then I went home to California for a couple of days and headed to Paris for the Tour presentation. Once I get back home, I'm not even going to answer the phone in case someone wants me to go somewhere."
Landis will start his 2006 training programme on November 1, saying "I need to get some structure now; last year, I started my training late, just because there was a lot of chaos on the team, and for next season, I would rather be in shape in February and March like previous years, so I'm motivated to start going now." Landis was positive about Phonak for 2006, telling us that "things are good; there have been some changes in the team staff and riders that will make things more focused. And the other thing that happened is that it was found that [Fabrizio] Guidi was not positive for EPO.
Finally, there was some positive reinforcement for Phonak team boss Andy Rihs. "It was just one thing after another and at least this good news got the teams morale back to where it should be. It's as good as it's ever been since I've been here." Landis confirmed reports that he had been approached by Discovery Channel to come back to his former team, but told Cyclingnews that he'd decided to finish his contract with Phonak at the end of 2006. "What I am happy about is that my relationship with Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel is back to where it was. There were some misunderstandings and some things just got exaggerated, but I'm glad to say I have a good relationship with Discovery Channel again."
And besides his BMC bikes, a recent edition to the two wheel stable of Landis has a proud place of honour in his Southern California garage. "My wife Amber bought me a Harley-Davidson Sportster for my 30th birthday (October 14th) so I'm looking forward to riding it too."