Thursday, July 20, 2006
This year's Tour de France has been a roller coaster ride, complete with painful "cracks" and triumphant returns, and all that is just in the last 24 hours. American hope Floyd Landis has been steady and strong, until a monumental blowup yesterday left him all but dead in the water, as he fell from 1st overall to 11th overall losing more than 8 minutes.
But today Landis put in what is easily the best ride I've ever seen. Ever. He knew he had to do something extraorinary today after yesterday's collosal explosion, and he did just that. He put his team on the front of the peloton early, and had them push the pace high and immediately started to put the other contenders under pressure. Then he jumped on them. Several other top contenders tried to follow Landis as he moved away from the pack, but he simply rode them off his wheel and never looked back.
Landis did a 125km solo break today, getting back almost all the time he lost yesterday. He now sits 30 seconds behind the race leader, and 18 seconds behind 2nd place with a showdown coming on Saturday in the penultimate stage, an individual time trial in which he excels. In Saturday's showdown, "the race of truth" as time trials are often termed, Landis will be favored and after today's enormous ride I can't imagine anyone who would doubt him.
All these things would be considered monumental, but then you throw in the fact that Landis is due to undergo a hip replacement shortly after the tour and it begins to take perspective. Landis may never race again, and he left it on the road today in impressive fashion. I've been a casual Landis fan for the last couple years, reading about his antics while being one of Lance's helpers, but in the last 48 hours I've turned into a huge fan.
Posted by Joel White at 7/20/2006 07:30:00 PM