Floyd Landis has declared his desire to win New Zealand’s Tour of Southland, where the former Phonak rider sits in fourth place just over a minute behind race leader Jeremy Yates. Landis announced his aims on the same day French court officials revealed the disgraced Tour de France winner and former coach Arnie Baker will stand trial on hacking charges.
“I want to win – it’s going to be tough but that’s the goal,” said Landis. “A minute’s quite a bit to make up so some bad weather or bad luck on the other guys’ part is probably what I need.
Landis is riding with the Orca Velo Merino squad in Southland. He believes riding with a group of young, enthusiastic riders has helped motivate him.
“It’s fun to be around the young guys – they have dreams and goals and get up in the morning all excited to race …it’s good for me,” Landis said. “I remember feeling that way – not that it’s different now because I enjoy racing my bike but it is harder to get motivated at times.”
After denying doping to win the 2006 Tour de France for a number of years Landis confessed to using performance enhancing products earlier this year. At the same time Landis levelled doping allegations at several former teammates and directors, bringing him under an even greater spotlight over the last six months, but Landis says he’s now back riding just for the love of it.
“I haven’t done that for a long time and it’s been good for my head,” Landis said. “At times things got lost in the whole chaos of it all.”
Landis was accused of hacking into the Châtenay-Malabry laboratory that tested his Tour sample in November 2006, with the lab saying that data on its computers was either removed or changed. The hacked files were subsequently used in Landis' defence in his US Anti-Doping Agency hearings.
The attack was allegedly traced to a computer with the same IP address as that of Landis' former coach Baker. An arrest warrant was issued in January for both Landis and Baker, with authorities wanting to question the pair over the attack.
A French court official said Judge Thomas Cassuto ruled on October 15 that the pair were to stand trial, but no court date has been set. The proceedings were intended to remain under wraps.