Mon, Aug 13, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Landis takes second in mountain race

AP , LEADVILLE, COLORADO

Last year's Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, No. 1220, races downhill just ahead of Dave Wiens, rear, in the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race on Saturday. Landis and Wiens dueled throughout the race with Wiens finally taking the lead at the 137km point.

PHOTO: AP

US cyclist Floyd Landis picked up some cuts and bruises but also some much-needed peace of mind in finishing second in a mountain bike race on Saturday.

Landis, disgraced by a doping scandal after winning last year's Tour de France, was unable to defend his title this year.

So while those who took place in this year's drug-tainted Tour were recovering from their exertions, Landis was racing to second place behind five-time winner Dave Wiens in the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race.

"This race was good because it was something to train for and I could focus on that," Landis said.

"I couldn't completely forget about the other stuff, but at least it was something to focus on," he said. "When there's nothing going on, I just end up thinking about things."

He's had a lot to think about.

Landis has vehemently denied doping despite positive tests on two samples, outlining his defense in his book, Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour De France.

Landis also underwent hip replacement surgery last September and participated in an arbitration hearing that will determine whether he gets to retain his Tour title. He returned to racing in June at the Tevas Games in Vail, Colorado.

Four-time defending champion Dave Wiens of Gunnison, Colorado, set the pace early at Leadville and Landis was right with him despite crashing on downhill about an hour into the race. Landis shook of a flat tire to nearly catch Wiens just past the halfway point, but finished 1 minute, 43 seconds behind Wiens' record of 6 hours, 58 minutes, 47 seconds.

"I chased too hard after the flat," said Landis, bandages on three fingertips and blood-soaked gauze from just above the knee to his ankle. "He probably was going to win anyway, even without the flat. He's in great shape."

Landis hasn't heard when the arbitration panel will make its ruling and has yet to schedule future races because of the uncertainty.

"It's been three months since the hearing and I haven't heard a word -- nothing at all," Landis said. "If they're going to do it right and they're going to take their time, that's fine, I don't mind. I just don't know what the time frame is. It would make it a lot more simple if they just said `it'll be next January.' That'd be fine."

Dismayed

Landis was dismayed at the doping scandals that blighted last year's Tour de France, with several riders, including leader Michael Rasmussen, kicked out of the race because of doping issues, casting the future of the race in doubt.

"You've got all of the organizations and none of them talk to each other," Landis said.

"They just go straight to the press," he said. "Fine, I'm not saying they should try to hide it, but the fans have no idea what to make of it. It's just chaos. If they've got a problem, they should just get together and talk to each other first."

So far, Landis hasn't seen signs that the scandals have permanently hurt the sport.

He was swarmed at the start of the Leadville race by fans and received similar greetings during a book tour last month.

"Whether people think I'm innocent or guilty, they all agree that this system doesn't work," Landis said. "It's been a year and a month and there's not even a decision. That doesn't make any sense. Even if they think I'm guilty, they have to believe that sooner or later an innocent person's going to come along and get [hurt]."

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