July 20, 2006

Barring an improbable scenario of mass crashes,: the 11th-placed Landis will not be able to make up the 8:08 gap on Pereiro. "It's finished. He can't win it any more," said Bruyneel, Armstrong's former team director.

posted by NoMich to other at 07:45 PM - 38 comments

In other news, Dewey Beats Truman.

posted by avogadro at 08:07 PM on July 20, 2006

Nothing like being up on current articles!

posted by lil'red at 08:56 PM on July 20, 2006

Spend the 5 bucks and buy a program

posted by budman13 at 09:20 PM on July 20, 2006

By the bye, lovely use of irony, NoMich.

posted by avogadro at 09:24 PM on July 20, 2006

Yeah NoMich, that was well done. And god damn that was awesome, what Landis did today. Win or die trying, to use a much-overused cliche.

posted by Amateur at 09:26 PM on July 20, 2006

I like how VeloNews opened its article: In one of the most audacious and bravest rides seen in the modern era of the Tour de France, Phonak's American rider Floyd Landis turned the despair of his stage 16 implosion into a stage-winning breakaway that put him back into the role of favorite to win this extraordinary race. It's really hard to overstate how incredible this was. Landis was receiving criticism for not having the aggression to win. A few days ago he said he'd love to win the tour without winning any stages. Just yesterday he said "I don't expect to win the Tour at this point" after bonking and losing eight minutes to the leaders. Then today, he literally raged up the mountain and crushed the competition. So much for not having the necessary aggression or killer instinct. Be sure to check out Graham Watson's photos of the stage.

posted by dusted at 09:39 PM on July 20, 2006

I'm watching the evening replay on OLN right now. On the replay we get Al Trautwig and Bob Roll for long stretches of commentary and then Phil and Paul at the end. Right now they are showing the other finishers on the last few kilometres -- I'm hearing Al and Bob, but they obviously believe that they are off the air. Trautwig is gleefully wondering how Phil and Paul will react -- especially since Ligget stated flatly that a Landis victory was impossible before the stage. He even does a little imitation accent … Bob Roll sees Dessel pitch over and hoots, "God Damn!" Nice work, OLN!

posted by Amateur at 09:48 PM on July 20, 2006

I just watched this after reading the reports today. All I can say is: Legendary. Fantastic. Historic. Unprecedented. Wow.

posted by trox at 10:33 PM on July 20, 2006

Actually, the commentary on OLN was excellent. They spent a long time keeping the context clear over the run of the stage, and they had Landis' coach (who was as bewildered as anyone at how well things were going) on with them, and then there were long stretches toward the end where no one's saying anything, and all you can hear is Bob Roll going "God DAMN! GOD DAMN!" over and over again. There really wasn't much else to say. Landis put on a clinic in the mountains today. He had the best day of his life on a bike, and while he's right back in the mix, and he's good in the time trial, he's not leading yet. He, Sastre & Pereiro are within 30 seconds of each other (that's pretty much a virtual tie going into the second-last-day time trial, but still), and we could easily see a real honest-to-god race along the Champs Elysées for the first time in a long time. This, my friends, is a race.

posted by chicobangs at 11:41 PM on July 20, 2006

Amen, chico, amen. I can't even imagine a competitive stage in Paris. It would be amazing to watch. These guys rode through my town in February. Here's a picture I took of Landis and Julich parading through downtown. They went by so fast I barely caught them just holding down the shutter button. If they were actually racing??? Look out!

posted by dusted at 12:40 AM on July 21, 2006

I'd like to thank ITV4 for fecking up the sound on their highlights programme. It's very difficult to follow cycling without some knowledge of who is where during a stage. I had no idea Landis had pulled off such an amazing recovery until I saw the leaderboard at the end. Thank God for British Eurosport's highlights programme later yesterday evening. This has been the most incredible Tour I've ever seen (though to be fair I haven't seen that many). Here's also hoping for a race to the line on the final day.

posted by squealy at 07:01 AM on July 21, 2006

I've enjoyed OLN's live coverage. Yesterday was just awesome to watch. Then to see Landis afterwards, very matter-of-factly say after stage 16 he knew he needed to do something. I've only really followed it the last couple years where the final day has been more of a celebration than a race. I thought that's just how it was. I hope this question isn't as dumb as it sounds, but do they race if it's still close or is the winner basicvally decided before they ride into town?

posted by SummersEve at 07:39 AM on July 21, 2006

Wow. Landis is amazing. The guy's gonna have his hip replaced because it's so bad he can barely walk, but he can pull this off. He knew he had to do something after stage 16, so he just dug deep into his reserves and bitch slapped the doubters. I just hope that his reserves last longer than the Tour does. It would be a real shame if he got to the end and went to the well one last time, only to find it empty. From what he's shown so far though, I don't expect that to happen.

posted by ctal1999 at 07:54 AM on July 21, 2006

CBS Sportsline has a live, bloggy type thing on their website if you can't watch TV. Click the corresponding stage and it updates automatically.

posted by SummersEve at 08:14 AM on July 21, 2006

SummersEve: Not a dumb question. Usually the race is decided on the stage before the last ride into Paris (barring any crashes involving the leaders). So the last stage is usually celebratory. The other riders usually let the leader and their team lead them into Paris. The last few years the last stage has been for the sprinters to decide who is the top sprinter. McEwen is 80 points ahead of the next guy, so I don't know if there will be a "race" for the sprinters jersey on Sunday or not. But it's always an honor to win the stage into Paris.

posted by lil'red at 08:22 AM on July 21, 2006

But will it still be celebratory if the overall leader's only up by a slim margin, like less than a minute?

posted by SummersEve at 08:26 AM on July 21, 2006

I love those early breakaways that don't get caught.

posted by garfield at 09:21 AM on July 21, 2006

at least, the tour ain't over yet, unlike the armstrong years, you basically knew who was going to win..floyd still has a chance, which i think, makes this tour the most exciting one in years...

posted by ktown at 10:24 AM on July 21, 2006

SummersEve: I believe so or at least it has been in the past. It is almost as if it is an unwritten rule. I know when Armstrong won a few years ago, his lead was only about 61 seconds and the last stage was celebratory. The teams pass around the champagne during the final stage long before they get into Paris, so it's become a tradition on the last stage. Less than 45 or 30 seconds - can't answer. But tomorrow's time trial will be awesome. Don't miss it.

posted by lil'red at 11:30 AM on July 21, 2006

Here's a picture I took of Landis and Julich parading through downtown Nice photo Dusted but I think that's Dave Zabriskie, not Julich. Zabriskie's Floyd's good friend from their days together on the USPS team... Incredible, amazing, historic, legendary ride by Landis yesterday. Given his TT abilities, he should be wearing yellow in Paris.

posted by JohnSFO at 01:17 PM on July 21, 2006

Here's a picture I took of Landis and Julich parading through downtown. Caption contest: "Hey man, make this left here. I know this great bar..."

posted by MrFrisby at 01:26 PM on July 21, 2006

Nice photo Dusted but I think that's Dave Zabriskie, not Julich. Yeah, I think you're right.

posted by dusted at 01:46 PM on July 21, 2006

Landis' achievement is even more remarkable when you recall that he is riding on a bum hip ( due for surgical replacement ) I believe he will win the Tour because of the momentum and his specialty, the time trial, is up next.

posted by sickleguy at 01:55 PM on July 21, 2006

Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about OLN's coverage in general. Usually, though, I tape the live broadcast and watch it after the kids are in bed. Here in Canada we get Phil & Paul doing all the play-by-play on the live broadcast, with Al & Bob sticking to the studio duties. I enjoy that more. The episode of a few minutes that I mentioned above was clearly a screw-up on the evening replay, but an entertaining one. Anyway, didn't mean to distract from the race itself, which has been compelling to say the least.

posted by Amateur at 08:51 PM on July 21, 2006

Amateur: I love Phil & Paul and wished the did the entire play by play on OLN's coverage. I just love Paul's "completely and utterly" phrase! Also I believe there used to be a drinking game based on how many times Phil & Paul used certain phrases.

posted by lil'red at 09:46 PM on July 21, 2006

sickleguy, he hasn't had the surgery yet. They mentioned on FSN that it's basically bone on bone right now, but he keeps grindin' it out (literally!!).

posted by ctal1999 at 09:52 PM on July 21, 2006

SummersEve, It would be virtually impossible, in biking terms, for someone to win the tour on the last day. In fact, I doubt if it has ever been done in the modern era. On flat stages, barring a crash, physical problem or equipment issue, the peleton stays together and only non-threats to the title are allowed to escape. This is regardless of whether it is stage 2 or stage 20. The leader's team would never allow a threat to leave the peleton. In case you have not noticed, when groups finish in a pack, everyone gets the same time. Even if there is a one or two second seperation of sprinters, the judges often award the same time to all. I think they allow a certain number of seconds or look for a gap or. for all intents judge that, everyone was essentially finishing at the same time. Sunday's stage is always short and flat and the man in first place and his team would certainly put him on the wheel of any challenger and allow no time gap, even a second or two. This is why in biking, just a few seconds can be a huge gap. It is really only in the time trials or on a mountain, mano a mano where time can be made or lost. To wit, Wednesday and Thursday's stages. Despite the doping that goes one, can you say Basso and Ulrich, biking still has a code of honor unlike many US sports. I do not think that any rider would feel right in taking the title after 19 days of battling to the death, because of the misfortune of the leader on the last day. Even on earlier stages, it is nearly always true that if the leader has an accident or bike problem, or even has to answer nature's call, the people behind him will not take advantage and speed off. You may remember several TDF's ago when Lance waited for Ulrich after he rode his bike off the side of the mountain. Ulrich paid Lance back on that epic stage in the Pyrenees a two years later, the stage when the musette caught on Lance's handlebars and Ulrich, Hamilton and the other waited to see if he could continue. For newcomers to biking, it takes a while to realize just how much a team and gentelman's sport it can be. PS - I think Floyd is a lock. This was my third or fourth favorite Tour Stage. I still think the aforementioned Pyrenee ride, when Lance was only 19 seconds ahead and down off the bike, was more exciting and longtime TDF watchers still remember Lemond taking what, 60 seconds out of Laurent Fignon to win in '89.

posted by A'sFan at 12:26 AM on July 22, 2006

Well, after the time trial, it looks like there won't be a race on the Champs Elysées after all. Landis has a minute on the field, and Pereiro had the time trial of his life, which kept him in second place. Champagne and photo ops all around. This year's Tour was a treat.

posted by chicobangs at 11:00 AM on July 22, 2006

On flat stages, barring a crash, physical problem or equipment issue, the peleton stays together and only non-threats to the title are allowed to escape. Does that mean the riders basically form a rolling roadblock to stop this from happening? Great comment, by the way.

posted by yerfatma at 02:54 PM on July 22, 2006

I wonder if Bruyneel likes the taste of his shoe.

posted by ctal1999 at 03:09 PM on July 22, 2006

Perhaps they should ban the favourites every year, it makes for a fantastic race. The way it has gone, I wouldn't be surprised if something unprecedented does happen tomorrow, even if it's only Landis falling off, mind you, Yank cyclists seem to be made of iron, so I can't see anything stopping him. Can we have a small, polite round of applause for the Brits, please............it's the first time we have had two finish the race since about 1993. Bradley Wiggins, refreshingly honest, has said he hates it and will never race it again.

posted by Fat Buddha at 03:58 PM on July 22, 2006

Paul Kimmage, a former pro, now an interviewer for the Sunday Times, had another go at Alp D'uez, and wittily tells us his tale.

posted by Fat Buddha at 04:04 PM on July 22, 2006

It would be virtually impossible, in biking terms, for someone to win the tour on the last day. In fact, I doubt if it has ever been done in the modern era. The '89 Tour, which you mention, was decided on the last day. The organizers had decided to make the last stage a very short time trial (25km). Lemond entered the last day 50 seconds behind Fignon, but was able to make up the gap, and add 8 seconds to it, in the closest and most dramatic Champs-Élysées finish. Of course, this was only possible because the last stage was not a regular peloton one. Does that mean the riders basically form a rolling roadblock to stop this from happening? The peloton can always achieve higher speeds than a small pack of a few riders, because it is more efficient aerodynamically, and it can distribute the hard work (cutting the wind up front) to a larger number of riders. If a couple of teams in the peloton decide that they're not letting a breakaway happen, they can fairly easily pull the peloton's pace up when needed.

posted by qbert72 at 06:46 PM on July 22, 2006

Ah, thanks for the explanation qbert. I had assumed that the short time trial on the "last day" was actually followed by a last last day into Paris. But what if the race was 8 seconds again -- that is, close enough that the time bonuses available en route could decide the outcome? Would the leaders and their teams try to contest those sprints?

posted by Amateur at 09:15 PM on July 22, 2006

I know they didn't try when it was Lance involved, but it wasn't quite that close (within the theoretical maximum of 32", but not by much). Normally, the main point of interest on the final day is the fate of the green jersey, but with the most points possible on the day being 47, even that doesn't matter this year--McEwen just has to finish.

posted by silverpie at 10:30 PM on July 22, 2006

But what if the race was 8 seconds again -- that is, close enough that the time bonuses available en route could decide the outcome? Would the leaders and their teams try to contest those sprints? If the race was that close, then this morning's final stage would be much like any other, with breakaways, blockades, attacks galore, and chess-move strategy out the yin-yang. But the gaps between everyone in the top ten are wide enough that no one is going to be able to make that happen. Pereiro is not going to be able pick up a minute over Landis in this stage, because Landis' crew won't allow it. He might be able to pick up a few seconds with a streak off the front right at the end of the stage, but if he ever got too far ahead, the Phonak Team would simply go get him en masse, and the only thing Pereiro's team would be able to do is keep up. There are no chess moves for tomorrow. There's only so much anyone is able to do at this point, and that's why the last stage winds up being a pageant more often than not. No one's going to break away and make up much of anything. No two riders have a gap of less than 30 seconds between them until you get back to 12th & 13th place. Things are what they are, especially among what has been a spirited, sportsmanlike and gracious group of riders. Ribeiro had basically conceded the Tour before yesterday's time trial. Congratulations to Landis for an amazing ride, and for keeping cycling in the papers with his exploits in the first non-Lance year, both of which are remarkable achievements.

posted by chicobangs at 01:47 AM on July 23, 2006

Some quotes from an Obsever article: Landis has never been much of a man for received wisdom, as might be expected of a character who spent his formative cycling years struggling against the religion of his family - strict Mennonites from Pennsylvania. Sport falls into a list of forbiddens along with television, computers and women uncovering their heads. Riding in shorts was forbidden so Landis trained in tracksuit bottoms. To prevent him training, his father came up with a whole range of household tasks that would take up his son's entire day: Landis trained at night, swaddled in many layers of cycling kit. At 17 he was US national mountain biking champion and tests showed he had a physical capacity which was not far off that of Indurain. As a professional cyclist, Landis has always been an independent spirit. At US Postal Service, he would turn down water with added salts, to combat dehydration, on the premise that it tasted foul. He questioned the team's bonus system and said acidly that Postal expected a rider to be honoured to accept a lower salary than in other squads. Cycling wisdom has it that walking is to be avoided: Landis walks. Before last year's Tour he opted to ride his bike through the Pyrenees to get to the start rather than use the plane ticket his team had booked for him. Landis was friendly with Armstrong but fell completely under his spell in his time at the team, and in 2005, after he quit to join Phonak, the pair spent the season feuding in a way that occasionally seemed petty. And while the pair have buried the hatchet, Europeans may well appreciate the fact that the 2006 Tour winner is no new Armstrong. They share an uncompromising ability to train hard, both detest the excuses that cyclists tend to make when they lose races, and they have the same fighting spirit, no doubt because both spent their youth kicking against the traces, but there the similarity ends. Armstrong turned the Tour into a circus of bodyguards, visiting celebrities and spin doctors and showed a lack of humility which was in disconcerting contrast with, say, Indurain, who retained the modesty of his rural roots. He is nowhere near either man's status, but thus far Landis seems more Indurain than Armstrong, sharing a chaotic apartment in one of the grimmer blocks in the Spanish town of Gerona, limiting his entourage to a trainer and a physiologist. Given that he rode the Tour a few months after surgery on his broken hip, and even now is in such pain that he is contemplating a replacement for the joint, he clearly has a rare ability to defy pain. His sense of humour, however, is all his own: one tale has him taping Lynyrd Skynyrd's eight-minute guitar classic Freebird on to Armstrong's answering machine when the Texan got divorced; another has him riding down a mountain on a wheel with no tyre, yet another involves cappuccino-drinking competitions with his close friend Dave Zabriskie of the CSC team. There is a pattern here, that of an unorthodox spirit who does not take anything lying down. Thursday's epic escape makes perfect sense in those terms, and today's overall victory will be unlike anything the Tour has seen in its 103-year history. The man is a legend!

posted by Fat Buddha at 09:14 AM on July 23, 2006

There hasn't been a Tour like this in decades. For the first two weeks, there was no-one near the status of a patron, no dominant team: it felt more like a series of Classics than a Grand Tour. In spite of Al and Bob's sniffiness, the French press was right: Landis hadn't shown panache or combativité in getting the yellow jersey in the Pyrenées, in part because of Phonak's relative fragility. If you look at L'Équipe from Friday and beyond, you'll see the respect accorded to Landis for that breakaway. He won it the way the French appreciate most of all: not by grinding out seconds, but by pulling a coup de gueule on the mountain slopes. The character of the race gelled, I think, with the astonishing half-hour break to Montelimar last Saturday: in past years, Perreiro would have been hauled back. ('Pas de cadeaux', as Hinault said last year.) Phonak couldn't do it alone, and couldn't convince the peloton to join in. That never happens in modern racing, but it happened. And it set the scene for the two astonishing days in the Alps. Mad, mad Tour. And great to watch. Big congratulations to Landis, but also to Perreiro, by proving that you can get on the podium in a flat-stage breakaway. [Wow, fifteen years since Abdou's crash? I was there at the finish for that one.]

posted by etagloh at 04:46 PM on July 23, 2006

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