Add Floyd Landis to the growing list of convicted and/or admitted dopers who have gotten into the gran fondo business. Landis, who won the 2006 Tour de France only to lose the title to a positive doping test and subsequent suspension, is joining forces with Anthem Sports to co-promote the two-day Gran Fondo Catskills Cycling Weekend in New York’s Catskills Mountain, June 1-2.
The event will kick off with the three-mile Devil’s Kitchen Hill Climb on Saturday, and conclude with Sunday’s 100-mile Gran Fondo Catskills in and around Windham, New York. Final rider rankings will be based on the hill climb competition and various timed segments on the gran fondo course, with overall age-group champions being crowned at the end of the event at Hunter Mountain Resort. Entry fee is $100.
Landis joins Levi Leipheimer (Levi’s GranFondo), George Hincapie (Gran Fondo Hincapie), Tom Danielson (Everyone Rides), and Lance Armstrong (Ride for the Roses) among past and current pro cyclists who’ve done a turn as gran fondo or charity ride ambassadors, and whose names have been tainted by illicit doping use.
In an interview with Fredrick Dreier for USA Today, Landis explained that the new event was about interacting with recreational cyclists, not restoring his image. “This is about using whatever association people have with me to create an event where people can have a good time,” Landis told USA Today. “Other than that, I’m finished with cycling. I have no interest in being a public figure in cycling.”
Motives aside, this event and others like it raise an interesting ethical dilemma. With the national amateur cycling events calendar growing every year, will an event’s association with an admitted sports cheat influence consumer buying decisions?
Clearly, Anthem Sports is banking that it wont. The promotion company behind the wildly popular Tour of the Battenkill believes Landis’ candor about doping in pro cycling, and the fact that he fingered Lance Armstrong as a cheat will outweigh any bad press.
“Floyd was the first guy to come out,” Anthem Sports director Dieter Drake told USA Today. “Some might view that as a bad PR move, but I think he’ll end up being on the right side of history.”
The new event will be held in Greene County, site of Landis’ last race in North America, the 2010 Tour of the Catskills. “Greene County is elated to have Anthem Sports continue to host cycling races in the Great Northern Catskills,” said Warren Hart, Greene County Director of Tourism and Planning. Online registration for the new event opens February 22, and you can find more details about lodging, sponsorship, and expo opportunities at www.greatamericancycling.com.