That's not OUCH as in “owee.” That's OUCH as in Occupational Urgent Care and Health Sports Medical Center of Temecula, California.
OUCH is the new primary sponsor of the former HealthNet-Maxxis cycling team. One of its first actions is to hire cyclist Floyd Landis when he becomes eligible to compete on Jan. 30, 2009.
Landis, 33, is currently serving a two-year suspension for doping during the 2006 Tour de France after a contentious and unsuccessful battle for more than a year to clear his name.
Tour of California
The OUCH-Maxxis team will continued to be managed by Momentum Sports, which achieved wide success on the USA Cycling's national racing calendar during the past 4 or 5 years. Among its stars have been Jeff Louder, Nathan O'Neill and Rory Sutherland.
The new sponsor, OUCH, is the medical practice of Dr. Brent Kay and has been involved with funding US women's track cycling, among other sports. Dr. Kay also is Landis' personal physician and was a strong believer in the cyclist, taking a prominent role in his defense.
HealthNet formerly raced at the previous Tour of California bike races. With the 2009 Tour of California scheduled to start Feb. 14, he could be competing against former US Postal Service team members Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer (Astana), George Hincapie (Columbia), and Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing).
It will be interesting to see how Landis fares in his return to pro cycling. It brings to mind the case of Hamilton, who also served out a two-year suspension for doping.
He had a lackluster performance the first year in his return with the Tinkoff cycling team, but that may have been due to internal politics. He shone as a member of the Rock Racing cycling team in 2008, winning the US National Road Race Championship in Greenville, South Carolina, in September, as well as the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China.