The news reports that Tour de France cyclist Floyd Landis had a deteriorated hip joint that would require hip replacement surgery intially drew a reaction of shock and awe.
Now comes the question: If it's been a problem for a year or more, why mention it now? Discovery manager Johan Bruyneel says if you're a favorite, you hide your weaknesses, not publicize them (see Bruyneel's video interview at VeloNews).
Landis told Samuel Abt in the New York Times:
“I’m going to have to tell it at some point and everybody’s here” at the Tour, “so they might as well hear it now.”
Landis' Phonak team manager, John LeLangue, told French TV recently (as quoted on Le Tour Live):
“We explained that the surgery was necessary yesterday because we’d prefer to be honest with the journalists rather than allowing rumours to circulate. We wanted to announce this news in Strasbourg but the media was focused on other issues at the ‘Grand Depart’.”
Why now? The Spinopsys blog says Landis is making an early excuse for failure:
“This is a load of self aggrandizing crap guaranteed to turn the TdF into a Floyd-centric media circus. We may be in for a modified version of Tyler Hamilton’s broken collarbone for the rest of the tour.”
A spirited discussion is also underway at the Tour de France blog — “Landis theories?” — regarding some hidden agenda for Landis announcing his pending surgery now.
Martin Dugard, author of “Chasing Lance,” says he talked with Landis at Tuesday's starting line:
While home, he decided to put the story out there, figuring he wanted to be up front with the news instead of having it leaked to the press during the race. “This is the last year of my contract,” he told me, “it seemed like the honest thing to do.”
Based on what I've read about Landis and his background, I think he's a straight shooter. Until he signs a big contract with Nike and gets handled by that publicity juggernaut, I'll take him at his word.
Meanwhile, I can't get that Tower of Power song out of my head — “What is Hip?”