Mennonite mania grips cycling fans

landisI spent last week with my brother, a huge Tour de France fan. He kept me updated on Floyd Landis, his favorite cyclist, who ended up winning the race a few days ago. So Landis was winning heading into the 16th stage. But then he did very poorly in the Alps, losing his lead. During the 17th stage, he pulled way, way, way ahead of the peloton and almost regained the lead. Or something. I'm going based on my brother's excited updates and my poor memory. Anyway, he ended up winning.

Well, where's the religion angle, you ask? It's everywhere. Every single story of Landis mentions his upbringing as a Mennonite. Here's The New York Times yesterday:

Landis said he believed that aspects of his upbringing, in a strict Mennonite family in eastern Pennsylvania, with no television and many expectations about what constituted proper behavior, contributed to his rise to the top of his sport.

"I don't pretend to know a lot about what's going on in life most of the time," he said. "But I had good parents who taught me that hard work and patience were some of the most important things in getting what you wanted. It took me a long time in my life to learn patience. But that and persistence, I think, is the lesson that even I learned from this race."

Or check out this AP story:

FARMERSVILLE, Pa. -- As Floyd Landis crossed the Tour de France finish line yesterday, his devout Mennonite parents were riding their own bicycles home from church.

Paul and Arlene Landis were so confident their son would win the cycling's greatest race they didn't have to choose between going to church and watching it on TV at a neighbour's house.

"I'm glad we didn't have to make that choice. Church is very important to us," Arlene Landis said.

A reader sent along a few more substantive articles, if you're interested. No matter what the article, it's interesting to see what an endless source of fascination Landis' Mennonite ties are to the media.

Photo via Guano on Flickr.

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