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Friday, January 23, 2009

Landis to ride in Tour of Missouri

Floyd Landis, coming off a two-year ban because of a doping violation at the 2006 Tour de France, says he's planning to ride this year's Tour of Missouri with his new domestic cycling team, OUCH. The team plans to ride the major U.S. races, starting with the Amgen Tour of California in February.

"Starting with the Tour of California, every race we enter we’ll be entering to win," Landis told Outside magazine. "Not that it will be easy. The Tour of California is huge, so it’s kind of a stressful first race back. And there are some very strong domestic teams we’ll be up against this season: BMC, Bissel. Guys come along each year who you’ve never heard of and surprise you. There’s real talent in the U.S. And great races. After the Tour of California there’s the Tour of Utah, the Tour of Missouri. I’m looking forward to it."

Landis' entry in the Tour of Missouri isn't official yet. The Kansas City Star reports that the only team that has received an invitation to compete in this year’s race is the Garmin-Slipstream team led by Christian Vande Velde, the 2008 individual champion. The September race still is in its planning stages.

Landis also had an extended interview with USA Today in which he not only confirmed plans to ride in the Tour of Missouri, but said he has no more faith in anti-doping controls.

"Those are half-(hearted) tests and they know it, but I have no choice if I want to race. You have to agree to those terms. But I trust those guys less than just about anyone I've ever met," Landis said.

After a long legal battle with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency over a test that showed he had an illegally high testosterone-epitestosterone ratio after his dramatic win in the 17th stage of the 2006 Tour de France. Landis ultimately was stripped of his overall Tour title because of the test.

One cyclist who's welcoming Landis' return is one-time teammate Lance Armstrong. The 7-time Tour de France champion, racing this week in the Tour Down Under in Australia, told Australian media the people should "forgive and forget" and welcome Landis and other cyclists who have done their time for doping violations.

"It's good that the strongest people in the world are in the strongest races in the world," Armstrong said in the Herald Sun. "You've got to remember that Floyd might have been found guilty but at the end of the trial, if you polled people more than 50 per cent thought he was innocent."

Speaking of Armstrong, he's is 38th place in the Tour Down Under after today's stage, in which he finished 47th. He's 39 seconds behind Australian Allan Davis after four stages with two more stages left.

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