If memories of the Tour of California are no longer fresh in the minds of San Luis Obispo residents, a special appearance by Tour de France champ Floyd Landis is bound to bring attention to competitive cycling back into focus or, perhaps the controversy surrounding it, anyway.
On May 5, Landis will roll into town as part of a fundraising effort organized by the Floyd Fairness Fund to raise money to fight the doping allegations brought against him during the 2006 Tour de France. The charges could ultimately strip him of his title.
The under-fire cycling champion is scheduled to make several public appearances, including a stop at Art's Cyclery, followed by a "Town Hall Meeting" at the Kennedy Club House.
Some may wonder why Landis and his fund chose SLO as one of a select group of cities where he'll host fundraisers and increase awareness on his behalf, but Landis is no stranger to the city he won the first Tour of California (which came through SLO) in 2006. A bit of coaxing from Eric Benson of Art's Cyclery might have helped with the decision, too.
"When we heard about the [Floyd Fairness Fund], we had been talking with the foundation for several months to try and get Landis out here and we're happy he could make it," Benson said. "We would just like for people interested in professional cycling to hear his story."
Despite the cloud of suspicion he travels under, Landis' story is sure to find obliging ears he's still held quite favorably among many Central Coast cycling enthusiasts, Cal Poly Wheelmen President Kevin Moynihan said.
"Landis is definitely liked locally since he made a big presence in the Tour of California, and had raced mountain bikes here many years ago," Moynihan said. "I'd say that most people are just sad that cycling is under more scrutiny, and Landis is the symbol of that."
For those who aren't keeping the score, Landis, who's said to have had one of the most profound performances of the Tour de France's rich history, was stripped of his fame shortly after a urine test revealed eyebrow-raising testosterone levels, prompting an investigation that led to his condemnation.
Though Landis is still officially listed as the 2006 Tour de France winner, many tour officials, including Tour Director Christiane Prudhomme, no longer consider him as such. Landis has since agreed to not participate in the 2007 event and was dismissed from the Phonak Cycling Team, for which he was captain.
Landis, who has said that the levels of testosterone found were "natural and produced by his own organism," faces a hearing with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) on May 14. The USADA will ultimately decide whether Landis is truly the 2006 Tour de France champion.
Until that day comes, Landis continues to proclaim his innocence and has scheduled numerous public appearances and fundraisers to aid against his plight.
Those interested in meeting Landis can find him at Art's Cyclery (located at 2140 Santa Barbara St.) on May 5. Guests can pay $75 to ride alongside Landis through SLO from 10 a.m. to noon. Landis will also be present at Art's Cyclery from 1 to 3 p.m. for an autograph signing.
From there, Landis and several trustees of the fund will host a "Town Hall Meeting" fundraiser at the Kennedy Club House, located at 188 Tank Farm Road, from 6 to 9 p.m. The event will include a film by fund trustee Dr. Arnie Baker, titled What's Fair is Clear, a question-and-answer session with Landis, an auction of jerseys and other memorabilia, and an autograph signing. A mandatory donation of $35 dollars toward the fund is requested of attendants.
For more information about the upcoming event or the Floyd Fairness Fund, contact Art's Cyclery at 543-4416 or visit the organization's web site at www.floydfairnessfund.org.