Floyd Landis will ride next month’s Tour of Southland in New Zealand after a group of locals reached out to the American to fill a void in their five-man composite team. Having already finished his first full season since serving a suspension, Landis was open to the idea when New Zealand locals Wayne Hudson and Richard McIlraith approached his manager to join their team.
“We had already formed a team of five riders, four of whom had ridden together in the 2008 Tour of Southland but a couple of weeks ago the fifth rider switched to another team,” said Hudson. “Although we asked a number of local riders if they wanted to ride for our team, nearly all of them had made commitments to other teams that were entering.”
Running out of options with local riders the pair started throwing around some bigger names over coffee. “Although it was a long shot at first, I said to Richard ‘well, why not? All we can do is ask and if we don’t ask, we’ll never know whether or not he might have said yes.”
The Tour of Southland won’t be Landis’ first competitive outing in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2000 he contested Malaysia’s Tour of Langkawi, winning the race’s opening stage.
Landis will join Nico de Jong, Nick Lovegrove, Jeremy Meech and Jamie Whyte on the cyclingnzshop.com-bioSPORT Team.
Landis was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title following a drawn out legal battle over an anti-doping control taken from the American on the event’s Stage 17. He returned to cycling in February at the Tour of California following his ban from competition, the same event he’d won three years earlier. Landis finished the race in 23rd place, one of his best results during a year of predominately North American stage racing.
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