Landis said he and Floyd's of Leadville business partner Dave Zabriskie will be on the start line when the Leadville 100 MTB race rolls out for the 165.7km ultra-endurance trek that starts at 3,094 metres above sea level and climbs to 3,787 metres.
He told Cyclingnews his last official mountain bike race was probably more than 10 years ago, but he asked the Leadville organisers six months ago to save him a spot if he was able to get in shape. He decided on Wednesday that he was ready to go.
"We had talked about it for awhile," Landis told Cyclingnews by phone Wednesday afternoon. "I think Dave has been planning on it for awhile, but I just decided. I've been riding a bit the past few months, and I figured I'd go beat myself up. I'll probably regret it about two-thirds of the way in – probably not even that long."
Like an injured NFL player, Landis' decision to 'suit up' for the race came down to the last minute – what they'd call a game-time decision in football. He told Cyclingnews he made the decision Wednesday at lunch.
"I like to plan ahead," he joked. "I suggested to Dave that we do a long training ride tomorrow, but he said he thinks our best bet at this point is just to rest. So we're just resting. I don't think we need to worry about being over-trained, let's put it that way. I'm just going to suffer like everyone else."
While Zabriskie, who competed in the Race Across America in 2014, appears to be pretty fit four years into his retirement, Landis has gained a few pounds. He admitted that his goal is to enjoy the race rather than win it. Exhibit A is his bicycle of choice.
"If you wanted to go really fast, a hard tail is the best way to do it, but I just want to enjoy it, so we're going to use full suspension," Landis said.
Three-time and defending champion Todd Wells won the race in 2016 with a time of 6:19:41. He'll be challenged this year by fellow pros Ben Sonntag and Chris Jones. Landis, on the other hand, will be happy to finish.
"I'll finish one way or the other," he said, "but I'm not going to put a number on it. Let's call it nine hours. How's that? I figure an extra 50 per cent will be fine for me.
"It will be fun," Landis said. "It's a great event. A lot of people show up and there's a great energy in the town, so I have no problem doing it."
'They're just being petty at this point'
Landis started out in cycling as a mountain biker, winning the Junior US championship in 1993. He eventually moved to the road and Armstrong's US Postal team, winning the Tour de France in 2006 with Phonak the year after Armstrong retired. The win was subsequently nullified by a positive test for testosterone.
Landis ultimately blew the whistle on Armstrong and the US Postal team and is part of a government lawsuit alleging fraud against Armstrong and Tailwind Sports, the owners of the US Postal team.
Nevertheless, Landis said efforts to prevent Armstrong from being an official broadcaster for this week's Colorado Classic via his Stages podcast were misguided.
The race decided that questions about whether the official relationship violated Armstrong's lifetime ban were enough to pull back. Armstrong will still be in Colorado podcasting about the race, but the race organisers are no longer officially promoting it.
"They're just being petty at this point," Landis said of USADA's 'concerns' that Armstrong's 'official' presence at the race could violate the terms of his lifetime ban.
"It just highlights their inability to make any kind of sense out the rules," Landis said. "It's just stupid. I don't agree with, but what are you going to do?
"I don't have issues like that. That's his fight to fight, but I think it's senseless. The guy wants to talk about bike racing. It's petty and trivial, and it hurts the sport because they just keep reliving this thing. Let's just get past it."
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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