On the day the managers of his former team announced that it will cease operations, Floyd Landis will take the start at the Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, Oregon.
Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation Executive Director Chuck Kenlan confirmed that Landis would take part in the National Racing Calendar event that begins Tuesday evening.
“He said he wanted to race his bike and he wanted to come alone and I didn’t have any reason to say, ‘No, we don’t want you in the race,'” said Kenlan. “He has a license and he’s a member in good standing. I cleared it with sponsors and also informed USA Cycling and they said there’s nothing that should keep him from racing. So, I’ve done my due diligence.”
Kenlan added Landis to the start list a day before the event begins. While registration was full two weeks before the start, organizers appealed to USA Cycling earlier this month to expand the field to 200 riders.
“We kind of kept that in our back pockets,” said Kenlan. “Then we lost some of the Red Truck Racing guys due to crashes and some space opened up in the field. It was shut down and the way it worked out, when guys contacted me, I let them in.”
Amongst those contacting Kenlan for late entry were Pat McCarty (Matrix-Richardson Bike Mart), Ryan Trebon (Kona) and Landis. Kenlan said he heard through a third party that Landis, who was stripped of his overall win at the 2006 Tour de France after a failed doping test, was interested in riding at Cascade. He said that he did not hear from Landis, however, until Monday morning.
The embattled Landis, who is involved in an investigation of systematic doping practices in the U.S. Postal Service team of Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong, was on the start list for the Fitchburg-Longsjo Classic earlier this month, but backed out at the last minute. When asked whether he was concerned that Landis would do the same this week, Kenlan said, “I’ve got his money. I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t come here and try to race his bike.”
An hour after he spoke with the former winner of Paris-Nice and the Tour de Georgia, Kenlan received a call from a producer at ABC News. According to Kenlan, the network will film race footage of Landis at the race for an upcoming feature. He said the film crew will have limited access to the race caravan and should not impact the event.
Kenlan did confirm, however, that he is concerned over the potential for Landis’ participation to attract negative attention to his event. “I guess I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned and, you know, the statement that any PR is good PR, I don’t necessarily wholeheartedly agree with that,” he said.
“You know, I’m more excited for Burke Swindlehurst racing in his 17th Cascade Cycling Classic this year and Rory Sutherland to race and Mara Abbott being here, that’s what I’m excited about,” said Kenlan. “And the V Australia guys mixing it up because they have a legitimate GC hope here. That’s the exciting stuff in the race. Having Floyd Landis here racing his bike, I hope he comes here and races. He’s shown in the past that he has talent. I hope he can come here and show that talent.”
Reorganization at Bahati
Meanwhile, the managers of the Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling Team said in a statement Tuesday that it is ceasing operations, although Rahsaan Bahati, the team’s founder, said it is “reorganizing.” The U.S. Continental team has been on the brink of collapse since Landis’ allegations of drug use by top American cyclists went public in May. On The Rivet Management assumed control of the team for the month of June and said last week that they have discontinued their relationship since. The two-man management team of Jason Kriel and Josh Saint, close friends of Bahati rider Nathan O’Neill, will launch a new pro-am team in the coming weeks.
“On The Rivet Management, LLC has announced it will form an elite men’s pro-am cycling team,” they said in a release. “The focus of this road team will be on National Racing Calendar events for the balance of the 2010 season and regional races in the Southeast.”
It is unclear which, if any, Bahati riders or staff will join the new program.
“The Bahati Foundation is alive and well, but the race team that supports it will be undergoing a re-organization,” Bahati said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “There’s a lot of mis-information flying around right now. It will take some time, but the facts of what has happened and what will be happening to the Bahati Foundation pro cycling team will emerge.
“The team has been, and will continue to be, competitive and race well. This team has been through some hard times, but it has persevered and will move forward in a much more sound and stable fashion. All the riders and staff who have been loyal to the team are moving forward with the new team.”