Floyd Landis challenges NBA star Deron Williams to bike race and hoops. OUCH.

Floyd Landis, the pre-ouch days.

Floyd Landis, the pre-ouch days.

Poor Floyd Landis.

Once on top of the cycling world, Tour de France Champion, Landis was the wild and quirky guy, the escaped Mennonite farm boy, the only rider cranking ZZ Top in the team bus, the heir apparent to Armstrong, the one hip wonder, with a pain threshold off the scream scale. The man was quotable, a throwback, a backwoods man in the stuck -up Euro-peleton.

And by golly, Floyd beat them all,  the best riders in the world, doped or un-doped. He famously said in the best gunslinger, Joe Namath, Babe Ruth way, “I didn’t come to race for second place.” There was a movie in the making. He made American bike fans do the impossible: forget Lance Armstrong.

And then the free-fall into darkness and despair. A two year suspension for blood doping, a failed legal defense that bankrupted him, a divorce, bitterness, fast food. Just another bad Hollywood reality show on two wheels.

And now this, Landis taking on NBA start Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz in a free-throw shooting contest and time trial. Should we laugh, cry, call 911, clowns, a hearse? Hard to say. No longer a big name tour rider with a salary to match, Landis toils in relative obscurity for the OUCH Presented by Maxxis team. Ouch is right. Floyd is five thousand miles from where he belongs: the Tour de France.

We miss the hell out of Floyd Landis. He was a rare duck, a blender mix of contradictions and he rode with unmatched style. With all the speculation surrounding what riders will join Armstrong in the new Radio Shack team, his name is never mentioned. Fairness for Floyd? Yes, he belongs back in europe with Lance. Not in Utah hyping a race by shooting buckets.

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