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Floyd Landis starting own cycling team

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Floyd Landis is using money he earned by taking down Lance Armstrong to start his own cycling team.

The man whose own doping saga cost him the 2006 Tour de France title and eventually helped expose Armstrong’s cheating says he’s building a developmental team for 2019 that will be based out of Canada.

He says this is his way of trying to rebuild trust inside a cycling community that has viewed him skeptically since he lied about taking performance enhancers in a much-publicized hearing in 2007.

“That’s the main motivation of the whole thing,” Landis said in an interview with The Associated Press. “A lot of things were said about me, and a lot was justified. A lot was PR from people who didn’t like the fact I exposed (the doping). One of the main arguments was, `He ran out of money and that’s why he did it.’ It was never the case. But there’s no way to disprove that, and if people don’t believe me now, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Three years after losing his doping case, Landis provided key information about his own doping and that of Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service team, all of which led to Armstrong’s lifetime ban.

Landis is using part of the proceeds from Armstrong’s lawsuit settlement with the government to fund the team. Landis and his legal team split around $2.75 million off the settlement because he brought a whistleblower lawsuit that triggered the case.

Now 42, Landis runs a business in the Colorado mountains, Floyd’s of Leadville, that specializes in marijuana and hemp-based products that are designed to relieve chronic pain.

His company will sponsor the new cycling team, which will take some riders from Silber Pro, a team out of Canada run by former teammate Gord Fraser that is shutting down at the end of this year. The team will also open opportunities for other young riders whose teams were dismantled after losing sponsors.

Landis is well aware his detractors will shake their head at his attempt to get back into the cycling game.

“I don’t like ridicule, obviously, and sometimes it looks like I’m looking for it,” he said. “I hope I can convince everyone that I’m contrite, I’m living my life, and hopefully they can let it go. Most people in cycling know that any support they can get for the sport is good and helpful. This gives me a chance to show them I can run a good team in an ethical way, and gives me a chance to show I know what I’m doing.”

Bernal lifts injury-hit Team INEOS with Tour de Suisse title

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ULRICHEN, Switzerland — In a rough month for Team INEOS, Egan Bernal lifted the British squad with overall victory Sunday in the nine-day Tour de Suisse.

Bernal came to Switzerland to support team leader Geraint Thomas, the 2018 Tour de France champion, who crashed out in a nasty fall on Tuesday.

Thomas’ accident followed teammate and four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome suffering season-ending injuries in a training crash in France.

Bernal is still slated to start the Tour de France on July 6 as Thomas’ top aide, though this confirmed race-winning potential after his Paris-Nice title in March.

The 22-year-old Colombian finished 19 seconds ahead of Rohan Dennis overall after they finished Sunday’s stage together, 1 minute, 2 seconds behind Hugh Carthy’s solo breakaway on snow-lined roads.

Bernal was 3:04 clear overall of third-place Patrick Konrad.

Tour director says race won’t be same without Froome

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PARIS — The Tour de France just won’t be the same without four-time champion Chris Froome in the field, race director Christian Prudhomme told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Froome was injured last week in a crash in France that left him with multiple fractures. He let go of his handlebars to blow his nose and hit a wall at speed.

“Clearly, it changes things,” Prudhomme said. “The Tour de France with Chris Froome and without is not the same thing. He has been the central character since, we’ll say, 2013.

“So other scenarios are going to open up.”

Defending champion Geraint Thomas was also hurt in a crash this week at the Tour de Suisse. The 33-year-old Welshman required stitches above his eye but he is still expecting to defend his title.

“Luckily I’m all ok,” Thomas wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “It just means I’ll need some big training rides next week now.”

The setback cast further uncertainty over Team INEOS, formerly known as Team Sky, which has won six of the last seven Tours. Bradley Wiggins won in 2012, while Froome took the title 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and Thomas last year.

But with Froome out and Thomas recovering, that could open the door for 22-year-old teammate Egan Bernal.

“Of course, Dave Brailsford’s team will weigh on the Tour de France, as in previous years. But will it do so to such an extent and in the same way?” Prudhomme asked. “I imagine that he, Dave Brailsford, is asking himself lots of questions, too.

“Who will be the leader? The evidence, logic, dictates it will be Geraint Thomas, of course,” Prudhomme said. “But will that still be the case after his crash? There are lots of question marks. But we know that Egan Bernal is ready, it seems to me.”

After an impressive win at the Paris-Nice race in March, the Colombian then also crashed in training in May. He broke his collarbone, ruling him out of the Giro d’Italia. But he is racing at the Tour de Suisse and Prudhomme expects that the mountainous terrain of the Tour will play to Bernal’s climbing strengths. This year’s Tour will be the first with three stages that finish on summits above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), where the thin air will sap riders.

“We’re going very high this year,” Prudhomme said. “But nearly all of us believe that the Colombians won’t be less strong at 2,000 meters and Bernal, obviously, is Colombian.

“At first glance, on paper, it cannot be unfavorable for Bernal,” he added. “He is super-talented in the mountains. He can attack from far out.”

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