July 20, 2006

Flandis the Magnificent!

Well, after Ullrich and Basso were ousted from the Tour de France for doping I figured it wouldn't be very interesting this year. So I haven't been paying attention... until Tuesday. Suddenly Floyd Landis took the lead from Oscar Pereiro by 10 seconds on the climb up L'Alp d'Huez, and I figured: "Can it be that we've got another US cycling champion on the order of Lemond and Armstrong?" Then Flandis had the dreaded "bad day", and on one stage dropped over eight minutes behind the lead, to 11th place. The other American, Leipheiemer, was ahead of him in 9th, but still over 7 minutes behind. No one has ever come back from that kind of deficit this far into the race, to win the GC (General Classification). (Strictly speaking it has happened, but not for a very long time.) Failure, quagmire, time to pull out and "acknowledge reality". But Flandis was, curiously, still smiling...

Today his team helped him take the lead early in the race, and with 25 km to go they were still over 7 minutes ahead of the main group (peleton). But my "inner Cindy" argued that they'd never be able to keep that lead for 25 km. Behold, Floyd crossed the finish line over five minutes ahead of everyone else in the field! Not just a stage victory, but an unprecedented victory! My inner Cindy was mortified.

Landis is currently only 30 seconds behind the lead, Pereiro, in the GC. Tomorrow's stage is flat, so things are unlikely to change, but the individual time trial, or what many have called the "race of truth", is Saturday. And for the first time in many years the final TT will probably decide who wins the TdF. And for the eighth year in a row, it may well be an American!

[See relevant video here.
And see Charles Johnson's posts on Flandis here, here, and here.]

Posted by Demosophist at July 20, 2006 01:16 PM