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July 23, 2006

Armstrong: “We would take Floyd back”

SI.com | Armstrong impressed with Landis' effort

Seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong said Sunday he was impressed by Floyd Landis' Tour victory, and that Discovery would like to sign the Phonak captain:

“We've always been interested in Floyd, he's a damn good rider,” Armstrong said Sunday. “We would take Floyd back. We've pursued him for some time now.”

In my opinion, Landis doesn't want to go back to Discovery. I think he would be concerned about going back into Armstrong's shadow. Even retired, Armstrong is everywhere, making pronouncements to reporters from the top of l'Alpe d'Huez and the Hotel Crillon, publicly mending fences with Jean-Marie Leblanc, riding RAGBRAI, hosting the ESPYs.

I think that tactically, Discovery would have provided better support than Phonak for Landis, but I also suspect that if Landis stays with the team, iShares will want to protect their investment by signing a few strong support riders to bolster the returning Phonak squad.

Also:

ThePaceline.com (free reg. required) | Lance's thoughts on Floyd

Armstrong from Saturday:

His ride on Thursday was epic. He showed a champion's resolve. I look forward to seeing him up on the podium in Paris. If it couldn't be one of my guys from Discovery Channel, th[e]n I am thrilled to see Floyd continue the success of American cycling.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2006 in Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong | Permalink

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Comments

It sounded like Landis will stay with Phonak/iShares for sometime, based on his comments after the stage today. As much as I like USPS/Discovery because it's American, Landis is now Phonak, and seems genuine and not looking to go to the highest bidder. Go Landis, good luck with the surgery!

Posted by: Shawn Mansfield at Jul 23, 2006 9:17:07 PM

i don't think of Discovery as an American team, at least by who rides for them. As far as ownership goes, yes they are American. Furthermore the TdF is about a group of riders who work their butts off for their captain, who is another individual rider who puts in a great ride! I dislike the overemphasize on the nationality of the rider. And finally as another one with three-pins in my hip I wish Landis all the best with the surgery, and look forward to him defending his yellow jersey in next years TdF!!

Posted by: vanni at Jul 24, 2006 1:35:05 AM

Discovery is announcing a big signing tomorrow (Tues) morning. Someone please tell me Levi is available for signing, because I would have a really uneasy feeling if it's Floyd. I mean, obviously if he decides to do that, he has good reason, but from the outsider's perspective, I don't like the way they've treated him - while he was on the team (at times), and since, and would really worry if that's the best place for him.

I would be perfectly happy for Levi to go there, I think that could work. Anyone know who else is available right now, that would be "big" and that would be pleasing to the Discovery fans?

Posted by: Julie at Jul 24, 2006 11:05:00 AM

I concur - Floyd will stay with Phonak/IShares. Floyd has had quite a roller coaster ride with Phonak, but he stuck with them even when their ProTour license was in doubt. I can't imagine that he'd leave them now.

Floyd's definitely someone who likes to blaze his own trail. Imagine how difficult it must have been for him to break away from his Mennonite upbringing. But he did it, and I think it provides insight into his character and personality. Like Armstrong, he's his own man, and that's probably the source of whatever friction there is between the two.

Off topic, but could Discovery have fallen apart any worse than they did? Sure, they nabbed a stage, but so did Agritubel. Even AG2R got two riders in the top ten, and Gerolsteiner had two riders ahead of Disco's first rider, Azevedo, their only rider in the top 20. Putting on my tinfoil hat, I wonder if the Spanish doping investigation scared them straight? Discovery's collapse sure was precipitous.

Posted by: Kurzleg at Jul 24, 2006 11:08:27 AM

Julie -

I sincerely doubt that it's Levi. He wouldn't represent a big signing for them after his somewhat mediocre TdF performance (unfortunately, he peaked too soon at the Dauphine). Levi probably isn't a Grand Tour team leader any more because his time trialing has degraded so much in recent years without a corresponding improvement in climbing. Or at least not climbing consistency.

I'll bet the signing is Michael Rogers. The guy can ITT, and he climbed well enough as a helper to make one think he could be even better if protected.

Posted by: Kurzleg at Jul 24, 2006 11:29:39 AM

Just saw this at Cyclingnews.com:

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news.php?id=news/2006/jul06/jul24news2

Phonak's Tour riders extend contracts

All nine Phonak riders at the Tour de France have extended their contracts with the Swiss team. Axel Merckx's contract extension (for 1 year) was followed by those of Floyd Landis (1 year), Bert Grabsch, Robert Hunter, Nicolas Jalabert, Koos Moerenhout, Alexandre Moos, Victor Hugo Peña and Miguel Angel Perdiguero (2 years each).

Phonak's General Team Manager John Lelangue was very pleased with the Tour de France team's decisions. "This way we can get an early start on setting the way forward for next season."

Posted by: Kurzleg at Jul 24, 2006 11:58:48 AM

Phew (so to speak ;) , glad to see Floyd is staying put. Hope they build up the guys around him, but glad to see him still in the driver's seat. And nice to see that Axel isn't hanging up the cleats quite yet, he did himself proud this Tour.

Michael Rogers - ok, but would American fans be excited about that? The implication was that it would be exciting for American fans, which is why I thought of Levi. (Not to generalize about American fans, some of us have more sophisticated palates than others, but from the Discovery way of thinking...) I actually thought of Kloden, we know he's unhappy about T-Mobile's delay in making a commitment, but I'm not sure that's the vibe I got from the Discovery hint. Ah well, we shall see.

Posted by: Julie at Jul 24, 2006 12:48:39 PM

Have y'all thought of Ullrich to Discovery on some sort of contingent contract that's voided if he's suspended?

As I said elsewhere, only Nixon can go to China...Lance would whip his ass into shape and he would be a monster with that team for the next 2 Tdfs.

Posted by: Jason O'Connell at Jul 24, 2006 2:40:57 PM

Since Landis is sticking with Phonak/iShares, if Discovery's "big signing" really deserves the adjective (by "big" I would assume someone who could or will be team leader and a legitimate TdF contender), my money's on Vinokourov. DSC has plenty of young guns - Danielson, Popovych and Gusev in particular - who could be serious GC contenders a few years down the road, but all those guys still need a few more years of seasoning, and by now it's painfully obvious that the team really suffered from the lack of someone who is clearly THE MAN going into the Tour. They need someone to captain the ship for a few more years and to mentor the young turks, someone who (unlike older guys like Hincapie and Savoldelli) is right at the top of his game. From a PR and security-of-investment perspective they want someone untainted by the ongoing Operacion Puerto drug scandal, so Basso and Ullrich are out. The only other name that comes to my mind is Valverde, but I believe he's committed to his current team and/or to staying on a European team.

It'll be interesting to see what the "big" deal is all about.

EDIT: aha, just before posting this I checked around a bit more, and according to The Paceline, it's Leipheimer. Interesting. I wouldn't call it an inspired choice, but except for a pair of poor time trials this year, Leipheimer would've been a legitimate podium contender.

Posted by: ewmayer at Jul 24, 2006 4:50:06 PM

Discovery shouldn't have been so cheap with Floyd two years ago. I read that Phonak paid him twice as much. Why did Discovery have to be so cheap and greedy?--they could have had a tour winner this year. On ther other hand, it might have taken Floyd all his trials and tribulations--Tyler, Lance vengence--to motivate him and give him the opportunities.

Posted by: whatever at Jul 24, 2006 7:24:18 PM

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