Landis coming for Colorado-Eagle River Ride | VailDaily.com

Landis coming for Colorado-Eagle River Ride

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado

AP file photoThe 2006 Tour de France winner, Floyd Landis, foreground, rides teamamtes during a training session during last year's Tour. Landis will be participating in this year's Colorado-Eagle River Ride Sunday.

VAIL ” Sunday, when the 2007 Tour de France rides into Paris for the finale, the 2006 Tour de France winner will be riding with about 1,000 cyclists through Eagle County.

Floyd Landis, last year’s Tour de France winner, said he’ll be participating in Sunday’s Colorado-Eagle River Ride.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Landis said in a phone interview Friday. “It sounds like it will be a good time.”

Landis, who was in Aspen this week training for the Aug. 11 Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race, had been asked by Mike Kloser last week if he’d like to come for Sunday’s ride.

“(Floyd) called me today and we talked about it and he said he’d be interested,” said Kloser, who was finishing up his professional mountain biking career just as Landis was starting his. “He said he wanted to come out and train, and this is a perfect fit.”

In early June, Landis was in Vail for a mountain bike race and road bike hill climb at the Teva Mountain Games, but hasn’t done any races or much training since then as he was promoting his book, “Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France.” Before the Teva Mountain Games, Landis was at his arbitration hearing with the United States Anti-Doping Agency regarding allegations that he tested for abnormally high levels of testosterone during the 17th stage of the 2006 Tour de France. Landis’ case is still undecided.

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“I’ve just been trying to get a decent amount of consecutive days training. I haven’t had that in a while,” Landis said, referring to his stint in Aspen.

Landis said he’s excited about getting a chance to ride with some top local cyclists on Sunday.

“It’s good to be with other guys who force you to ride harder than you would otherwise ride,” he said. “Especially when you are just getting into shape. Once you’re in shape, you can stay motivated. But lately, I haven’t ridden enough, so it’s better if I have people around to motivate me.”

Kloser, who is the ambassador for the Colorado-Eagle River Ride, likes that cyclists of all different levels can ride with Landis.

“It gives people a chance, if they are interested, to brush shoulders ” hopefully not too close ” with Floyd,” Kloser said. “He’s a very outgoing person. He’s not the Hollywood-type figure who can’t be bothered by anybody. He’ll say hi and introduce himself. I think people will find him welcoming.”

Greg Lestikow of East Vail was thrilled by the news that he’ll be pedaling in the same ride as Landis.

“It’s kind of like if you were playing in a pickup football game and John Elway showed up,” Lestikow said. “Being among greatness is fun. I’m sure it will add a little bit of electricity to the ride, which I’m looking forward to.

“There is some controversy surrounding him, but I think regardless of whether or not I think he’s guilty, he seems like a great guy who loves riding and this will probably bring great publicity to this ride.”

Along with a 100-mile option, which Landis said he’ll be riding, participants can go 100 kilometers or 42 miles. The route starts in Avon from Beaver Creek’s Elk Lot, and moves West on U.S. Highway 6. Then at Wolcott, it moves north on Colorado Highway 131 and turns onto the Colorado River Road by State Bridge. At Dotsero, the ride turns back onto Highway 6 and goes east back to the start in Avon.

As of late Friday night, 805 people were registered, and organizers expect the number to be upwards of 1,000 when the ride gets under way Sunday.

“Hopefully (Floyd) will inspire some people who’ve been on the fence to go out and register,” Kloser said.

Landis, who switched to road cycling after a successful career as a mountain biker, is looking forward to the Leadville 100.

“I’ve never done anything like that,” Landis said. “It’s unique. It’s 100 miles at high altitude.”

Landis said his hip, which he had surgery on after the 2006 Tour de France, is feeling good, and that he’ll come into the Leadville 100 more prepared than he was for the Teva Mountain Games race.

“That was painful,” Landis said of the Teva competition. “Racing at altitude is all right with me as long as I have a few weeks to get used to it. (Teva) left a mark.

“It’s beautiful mountain biking up here. It had been about eight or nine years since I’d last done it.”

Friday, Landis rode up Independence Pass from Aspen.

“That’s something else,” Landis said, laughing. “That goes on forever. I didn’t realize how far it was. It’s spectacular.”

As for this year’s Tour de France, Landis weighed in a bit.

“There are a lot of rumors and accusations,” Landis said. “It’s not going to end the sport. The Tour (de France) is the biggest race and it’s most likely going to stay that way. It’s unfortunate for the guys who are legitimate. At this point, it’s hard for anyone to sort out who that is. There seems to be a culture where as soon as somebody is accused they are immediately convicted by the press. It’s confusing right now.”

While there may not be the throngs of Parisians with cow bells Sunday during the Colorado-Eagle River Ride, Landis is happy he can enjoy the Colorado scenery.

“Like I said a lot of time, I wish I could have been (at the Tour de France) this year,” Landis said. “But I’m going to be somewhere and (Eagle County) isn’t a bad place to be.”

Registration is open until Sunday. For more information, check out http://www.vailvelo.com or call 926-9292.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.

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