Tour GC favourite Floyd Landis will have to undergo a hip replacement after the Tour de France, as a result of a degenerative bone condition that started when he broke his hip three and a half years ago. On Sunday, Landis told Sam Abt of the New York Times that he has been in pain since he broke his hip while on a training ride in California in January 2003.
"If I hadn't had a bicycle-racing career, I would have had the hip replaced two years ago because I don't really want to deal with the pain," Landis said. "It's bad, it's grinding, it's bone rubbing on bone. Sometimes it's a sharp pain. When I pedal and walk, it comes and goes, but mostly it's an ache, like an arthritis pain. It aches down my leg into my knee. The morning is the best time, it doesn't hurt too much. But when I walk it hurts, when I ride it hurts. Most of the time it doesn't keep me awake, but there are nights that it does."
Landis' condition is called avascular necrosis, which is common with this type of injury. "Scar tissue closes the blood vessels in the hip and the ball on the hip collapses," he explained, also confirming that he had an operation to ease the pain two years ago." He is permitted to take cortisone to help with the pain.
Although he kept it quiet from his team, Phonak has been aware of Landis' problem for some time now. "We knew about the condition and that was important," said team manager John Lelangue. "I know we're talking about hip surgery, but if it's done well and planned for a good moment, I'm confident he will return to training normally and there won't be any problem next season."
After the hip replacement, Landis hopes to compete again at full strength. His coach, Allen Lim, predicts that he will be much stronger when he comes back.