Landis battles injured right hip

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

BORDEAUX, France -- American rider Floyd Landis is in constant pain due to an injured hip that he said Monday will need to be replaced after he finishes the Tour de France.

Landis, one of the favorites to win this year's Tour, said the pain began after a crash in training in January 2003, when he fractured his right hip. The fracture cut off blood to the hip bone.

"Using it doesn't in any way increase the chance that it will be unusable later. It is already ruined," Landis told a news conference Monday, a rest day on the three-week Tour.

The 30-year-old Landis is currently second overall in the Tour, 1 minute behind Serhiy Honchar.

He had pins inserted for the fracture and has since had two more surgical procedures -- the last in 2004 -- to try to restore blood to the bone.

Landis said he would have hip replacement surgery when the pain got too bad, and probably sooner rather than later. His Phonak team doctor, Denise Demir, said surgery could be in August -- the Tour finishes July 23 -- if they find suitable surgeons.

"He's tired of the pain," she said.

Demir said Landis refuses to take pain medication.

"He doesn't want it. He says it makes him tough," she said.

Landis' personal physician, Brent Kay, said the discomfort keeps the cyclist from sleeping. He said the bone damage is "as bad as it can get ... Everything is pretty much worn down."

Demir said Landis' right leg is about an inch shorter than his left leg since the crash, when the ball at the top of the hip bone snapped off, affecting his balance. She said Landis cannot push the right pedal with the force that he can with the left.

She added that when she first saw X-rays of his hip condition, "I couldn't believe that he could walk, let alone ride."

The story of Landis' impending surgery first was reported Sunday by The New York Times on its Web site. The Times quoted an article on Landis that will appear in next Sunday's issue of The New York Times Magazine.

Monday was the first rest day of the three-week Tour. The race resumes today with a flat stage from Bordeaux to Dax in southwest France.

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