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Tour de France 2006 Floyd Landis' Last Good Chance

roadskater's picture

Wow. Spoilers here so watch out if you don't want to know what's happening now. I'll insert a break so the preview doesn't spoil it...click to see the rest...after the replay I'll remove the break probably.

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To make the cliché come to life, Floyd Landis is riding for his life as they say, meaning in this case he seems to really believe this is his last good chance to win, ever, given his hip condition and the uncertainty ahead with that. Yesterday I said he needs six minutes at least, but really you'd have to say he needs seven if you discount racing on the last day. But this year we may have racing all the way to Paris!

This morning Landis took fairly early (about 127k to go I think) and while I said Levi would leave it all on the table, I think Floyd will leave it all on the road. Conventional thinking was that the peleton will spank the valley and reel Landis in as he tows a T-Mobiler along as much as NINE MINUTES ahead of yellow, becoming virtual yellow for at least a few moments.

Off the penultimate descent, CSC team orders have kicked in it seems, and T-Mobile has sparked after letting CSC crank awhile. Jens (another nice interviewee to hear) and Serhiy are working hard and the gap is down to seven and a half or so. TMO and CSC are a superteam now, perhaps with two of the Spanish in there.

Now they head into the HC climb peaking at 188k of 200k... 

Sastre has looked strong, and stronger than his team, and he's been able to go off alone, so it's no surprise he's off to chase down Floyd. The gap is down under six and Landis is fading a bit perhaps. TMO again has the best team effort up front, so this bodes well for Klöden, but as I type he's unable to stick on with 2 pinkmen leading him on. They note the gap and go back to retrieve him.

Two-thirds up the climb the gap is again going up to near seven again. Oscar is digging, knowing this is the most dangerous day left for him... Evans et. al. are about six behind Floyd, with Sastre up ahead of them by fifteen seconds or so...

A bit of a revival for Landis, and Sinkewitz who was the pinkster on his wheel all day, has gone back to Klöden.

As Floyd crosses the top of the HC climb he has about 5:15, and the thinking is that Landis is better on the descent. He may get that six or even seven, and he's picked up some bonus seconds I would assume today...

Pereiro has 10 seconds in the GC (yellow jersey competition) over Sastre at the top, and now it's mostly downhill. Moreau and Cunego cross after Sastre crossed at 5:08 behind Landis, Pereiro at 6:52...

1k to go and what a ride, and apparently a fast descent. Landis sure did look to be pedaling downhill aplenty. The crowd is extremely loud it seems as Floyd pushes it, but at the end he even seems to have more, looking back briefly, crossing with a fist in the air, punching the sky with a stern jab.

The Eurosport announcer is equating this with the best comeback efforts ever, in any race, of course with more to go... and there's the belief that the motorbike cameras had trouble keeping up with Landis on the way down and that this is why there was so little video (relatively) of the descent. It's possible on the sections with few straightaways.

Sastre comes in about 5:41 or so back, then Moreau, 5:57...for the yellow it's Pereiro keeping it by well under half a minute.

For those reading this just after the event, try cyclingfans.com's link to the Lux stream...

http://www.rtl.lu/tele/livestream/index.rtl?live=high#cf

as they often repeat the last part of the ride just after the finish. This is better quality video than the sputnik.dk site provides, but I would not have TdF this year if it were not for the Danes, so thank you!

http://tv.sputnik.dk/player/channel/2089519/clip/2831227.asx#cf

Landis on winning his very first Tour de France stage, roughly... to Frankie Andreau...

"I don't care. I came here to win the tour and that's still what I want to do."

I really like the "Thankya Frankie" at the end. He's trying not to beam joy because he knows there's a long way to go and tomorrow could bring other surprises, but he seemed to have the data he didn't share with us, that he needed tons of water over him to keep cool and yesterday he must have known it. I suspect by way of ES commentators guesses that he must have felt the chill of heat exhaustion yesterday. Whatever the case, seldom has tomorrow is another day been a more apt cliché.

So amazingly, really, there seem to be three who are well within range to win the 2006 Tour de France, and more if "distastes" strike as they have so often this year:

1 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears
2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC -0:11
3 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak -0:31

This puts Landis in great shape to ride the time trial for yellow, so he's in position to win, which is all you can ask for at this point...

Just noticing at the ceremony, Landis didn't shake the hand of the first man at the podium, Bernard Hinault. At first I thought this might have been some sort of slight but later research showed there's not likely good reason, and I at first thought this was the Tour Director, who might be unpopular with a USofAmerian cyclist, given the "end of a regime" comments and lots more. In any case, the AP story quoted Hinault thus regarding Landis today:

"He is just showing that he's a real soldier," said Bernard Hinault, a Frenchman who won the Tour five times, during the stage. "I'm a big fan of Floyd today. ... He's got an aggressive streak."

Coming from the guy who didn't want to help LeMond too much if memory serves, this is a great compliment.

As I write Lux is showing the replay from Landis' crossing the last peak on...sweet! I can't imagine why Outdoor Life Network doesn't offer what ESPN360.com did with the World Cup, or at least let us watch the 8pm replay online, or say, once the night time replay is over, let us watch it on the internet. Perhaps I've missed a link somewhere? And how infuriating is it to have only one hour a week on broadcast television in the USA for such an event, quite possibly the sport more middle-agers and beyond are actively participating in (other than golf car riding and poker!) here in the USA. I wish OLN would rebroadcast the full feed netwise after their slimcasts are over. Just a dream.

What a ride! And I can relate only the smallest bit. Two days ago I went to skate and felt horrible, high heart rate for simple tasks on mild to moderate terrain, sweating tons, terrible form, horrible push. Yesterday I was no speed demon but my heartrate was back in reasonable range, better form was natural, the wheels worked, and it was relatively easy.

What a ride!

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