Friday, July 21, 2006

Best. Stage. Ever.

Did you see Stage 17 of the Tour yesterday? If not, you'll wish you had.

On the preceding day, the second in the Alps, race leader Floyd Landis---Flandis, as Alison likes to call him---lost over 8 minutes (and 22 places) on the final climb. As a result, he was clearly out of contention for the overall race.

Yesterday, on the final Alpine stage, Landis broke away on the first ascent of the day, 125 km from the finish. He rode essentially solo to the finish line, winning the stage and pulling himself into 3rd place, behind race leader Oscar Pereiro (Spain, Caisse d'A‰pargne) and Carlos Sastre (Spain, CSC). In other words, he gained almost 8 minutes on the leader. Here's what current professional rider Bobby Julich (USA, CSC) had to say about the stage:
Floyd Landis's’ Stage 17 ride on Thursday was the most amazing ride I have ever seen in my life and will go down as one of the best rides of all time, and Landis will go down as one of cycling'’s gutsiest riders.
Former pro rider and current cycling commentator Bob Roll had similar comments:
Today we'’ve seen the greatest single day ride in the history of the Tour de France.

Here's the kicker: There's only one hard stage left in this year's TdF: a 57-km individual time tral on Saturday. Landis is typically a much stronger time-trialist than Sastre or Pereiro, in fact, he beat them by more than a minute in a 53-km ITT earlier in this Tour. So Landis could win the Tour de France after being over 8 minutes down.

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