Landis to join Hamilton at Phonak?

Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong's faithful lieutenant at US Postal, could be preparing to strike out a

Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong's faithful lieutenant at US Postal, could be preparing to strike out a
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE American Floyd Landis could follow in the footsteps of another famous US Postal rider who fled the comfortable confines of Lance Armstrong's team - and join up with Tyler Hamilton at the Swiss Phonak outfit next season, writes Justin Davis. Landis, who has been instrumental to Armstrong's Tour-winning team since returning from injury in early 2003, has been reportedly approached by Hamilton's team - and US Postal might not stand in his way. The 28-year-old American, who came to road cycling through mountain biking, was particularly on show during this year's record sixth victory for Armstrong, coming close to winning the 17th stage at Le Grand Bornand where Armstrong ended up outsprinting T-Mobile's Andreas Kloeden at the finish line. Spanish newspaper reports have quoted US Postal directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel as saying that "we have an option to hold on to [Landis] but we will not stand in his way [if he wants to leave]". Phonak, when contacted by procycling, did not want to comment on the report: "We will be making an announcement relating to the team at the start of September," a team spokeswoman said on Friday. Team manager Jacques Michaud was unavailable for comment. Landis' contract with US Postal expires at the end of this season. However, after his promising Tour de France, he could be tempted to move to a team where he will be given ample opportunity to ride for himself - especially with the advent of the UCI's Pro Tour. The format of the Pro Tour will effectively mean that the top teams will have to consider their preparation and inclusion in the three big Tours of Italy, France and Spain, the one-day Classics and the week-long stage races more seriously. After his promising displays this July, Landis' confidence must have come on in leaps and bounds. A move to a team that would give him more responsibility, and a chance for some personal success, would come as no surprise. But whether Armstrong would give Landis his blessing to leave the team is another thing. The six-time Tour winner gushed with praise for his team-mate after his victory on stage 17 of the Tour which Landis virtually controlled throughout. "He was the man of the day. He was incredible. I would have liked to have kept him up there for a possible stage win," Armstrong said. "That's probably the best ride from him I've seen."
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