Floyd Landis: Rumors, Rock Racing and bowling
As the season approaches and teams are conducting training camps, Rock Racing has been surprisingly silent. No press releases of upcoming training camps or even a 2010 team roster. In 2009 Rock rode in a splashy kit proclaiming “Rocks not dead”. For 2010 team owner Michael Ball stated he was taking the team to the next level: pro continental. Rumors swirled around the team. Rock Racing was going to be registered in Mexico, they were going to race in Europe and even earn wild card entries into the Classics and smaller stage races. With a strong core roster of Spanish riders like Oscar Sevilla, Victor Hugo Pena and Francisco Mancebo the team has proven to be a force to be reckoned with domestically, so why not take it to the next step? Hyperbole ramped up to overdrive at Interbike where Ball unveiled a complete line-up of Rock branded cycling apparel as well as full carbon fiber frames and components. For 2010 they strengthened the Rock team by signing Tony Cruz, a rider who has raced successfully on both sides of the Atlantic. However the new marquee rider Ball was rumored to have signed was Floyd Landis. Landis issued a press release in December stating his departure from the OUCH team (now UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team) however leaving out who he was going to be racing for in 2010. This only fueled the fires of speculation of who he was racing for in 2010. But all those Rock Racing dreams of a European campaign, and perhaps even an American campaign, have seemed to have crashed with the denial of pro continental status by the UCI. Sources have told me that Ball still owes money to riders and race promoters which will seriously hamper any chance of competing in any races of importance. After several days of text messaging with Landis I was able to track him down on the phone to discuss the upcoming season and whether Rock was indeed dead.
With the apocalyptic weather conditions that has been lashing down on Southern California I asked Landis what he has been doing for training. “Oh the usual. Riding around, bowling, just doing stuff.” I pressed him on the status of the Rock team and the rumors that he had signed with the team for 2010. On this subject he was a little more to the point. “I’m racing in the Tour of the Bahamas this weekend in a Rock kit, so yeah, I’m doing that. I told them (Rock Racing) that I wanted to do that race so they sent me a kit.” Landis is lining up for his first race in 2010 in a Rock kit, but what is the status for the rest of the year? “I honestly don’t know. I don’t know even if Ball has thought about the team these last two weeks. I don’t know what is going on. I’m focusing on my training and my bowling. I need to think of my future after cycling and bowling might be it.” After the Tour of the Bahamas his future is not so crystal clear. “I have no clue what’s going on. After the Tour of the Bahamas I’m going back to my shack behind the car wash. Maybe I’ll write a book.”