Floyd Landis to race US mountain bike series

Disgraced Tour winner back to the dirt

Floyd Landis has accepted an invitation from the National Ultra-Endurance (NUE) mountain bike series to compete in their eight-race series in 2008. Heading into its third year, the NUE MTB Series features a schedule of 100-mile races held across the United States.

"We are pleased that Floyd has accepted our invitation to come out and race at our events," said NUE Series Director Ryan O'Dell, "These are the kinds of events where everyone is welcome, all ages and abilities. Having Floyd means we can generate additional exposure and attract sponsors that will help us further build our unique brand of racing."

In 2007, Landis raced the Shenandoah Mountain 100, which was the NUE Series finale. Riding for Smith & Nephew - BHRhip.com, he finished third behind Jeff Schalk (Trek / Volkswagen East Factory) and Harlan Price (Independent Fabrication). He also finished second at the Leadville 100, which was not part of the NUE Series.

"The great experience I had last year was a big part of my decision to commit to the whole series," said Landis, "I had a great time and felt very comfortable. It really gets you connected with why we all chose to ride bikes. The races are fun, healthy and very competitive and the racers, staff and sponsors for these events are truly great people. I can't wait for the first race in April."

Landis won the Tour de France in July of 2006, but organizers later stripped him of his title following a positive doping test for testosterone. Original runner-up Oscar Pereiro was awarded the title in October of 2007. Landis' bid to overturn his positive doping test before a hearing involving the US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) was unsuccessful when an arbitration panel ruled to uphold his positive test results and subsequent two-year competition ban in September.

However, Landis is still awaiting the outcome of his final appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), with a decision expected in March. In the meantime, he has been serving his suspension, which applies to sanctioned competition. The NUE series is sanctioned by neither the UCI nor USA Cycling.

A source close to Landis told Cyclingnews that Landis was fully committed to the NUE Series regardless of the outcome before CAS. "He's committed to his sponsors and the NUE Series will be his primary competitive forum for 2008. Whether CAS overturns the decision against Landis, it doesn't change his competitive focus for the year. The NUE series is an opportunity for Floyd to keep himself in race form and to continue to provide value to his sponsors who have stood by him."

In addition to attracting many local and regional grassroots racers, the NUE series' growing profile is drawing over time more elite level racers, many of whom are subjected to anti-doping testing out of competition and at other competitions.

When asked if there were any plans to add anti-doping testing for the NUE series, co-organizer, Garth Prosser told Cyclingnews, "No, we don't have that kind of money. This is old school mountain biking. We could make more money by recycling the beer cans from after the race than from organizing the race." Before making his reputation in the professional road scene, Landis was one of those "old school" racers on the American mountain bike circuit.

The 2008 NUE Series will open April 19 in Tennessee with the Cohutta 100 and will wrap up on September 6 in California with the Tahoe-Sierra 100. See the full NUE series schedule

The 2007 series was won by Chris Eatough (Trek / VW), who is expected to defend his title in 2008 although he could not be reached for confirmation.

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