July 31, 2006
Synthetic testosterone in Landis sample
The New York Times is reporting that Floyd Landis's A-sample was tested by mass spectrometry, and turned up differing carbon isotope ratios, which is generally a sign of synthetic testosterone use.
Landis will now have to explain how the synthetic testosterone got into the sample, rather than attacking the admittedly weak baseline T/E ratio test.
Landis finally requested a test of his B-sample today, which should give results before the lab closes for a holiday starting Monday.
July 29, 2006
I need testerone!
I rode next to a commuter that was really grinding the pedals over a bridge and he quipped, "I need testerone!" And I said, yeah, "a patch right on your balls!" (referring to the SI.com article) We both chuckled a bit, but the exchange did indicate the impact of this story and how the Landis story is everywhere. While I don't believe anything about pro cycling anymore, I'm relieved to see Landis on the PR offensive, getting his story out, and he's making a good case. As the story came out, my biggest concern was that we'd have another Tyler Hamilton story and the ill-fated "I believe Tyler" campaign. Landis has already done well to raise doubt, get support from Lance, bring on the doctors, and it isn't a confusing chimera defense.
Landis on Larry King
Travel day today, so I'll be slow to approve comments, but I wanted to point out a couple of things from Landis on “Larry King Live” last night.
Maybe we need to come up with a different word than “suspended,” but it seems to me that if you can't race, and face possible dismissal, you've been suspended. Landis wouldn't cop to that -- he said something like that he had voluntarily stopped racing until this was cleared up -- but I believe UCI regs prohibit him from racing until then.
Landis hadn't yet approved the B-sample test, but he said that was just a matter of trying to work out his options, and to find an appropriate expert to be his representative, and that he expected to notify USA Cyling later Friday night or this morning.
Lance Armstrong called in, and was somewhat supportive, taking the opportunity to note that this is the same lab that tested those infamous samples from 1999. Armstrong says he doesn't think there's any anti-American bias behind the test: “I wouldn't say that that's the reason Floyd's going through this.”
Dr. Brent Kay is Landis's doctor, board-certified in sports medicine and internal medicine. He said it's “crazy to think a Tour de France rider would be using testosterone in the middle of the race ... It's a joke.” A member of WADA has pretty much said the same thing.
Landis said he was tested 6 times before Stage 17 (I've also heard him say 5 times), but that he isn't provided with results from negative tests, so he's not sure what his TE ratios or other values were on any of those.
Dr. Kay noted that the TE ratio test itself “is the original test that was put into effect 25 years ago,” and that WADA's website “says this is a poor test.”
Looks like the offensive may be working -- the Today show just teased the story without using the word “dope” (they used “cheating” instead).
NPR also had a 15-minute interview, which you can download as an MP3:
July 28, 2006
Landis likes Larry, eludes Leno
Don't look for Floyd Landis on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight. Landis was scheduled, but cancelled after his A sample from Stage 17 tested over the testosterone/epitestosterone ratio limit.
He will, however, visit America's greatest softball pitcher, the tried-and-true first defense of the scandal-plagued: Larry King Live. Landis will of course discuss his initial positive test.
Another Floyd tidbit: FreeFloydLandis is a new weblog by somebody who knows more about this stuff than I do: Lots of stuff about 13C/12C ratios, IRMS tests, and ethanol.
July 27, 2006
Classic Tours slideshow now in English
I linked this awesome slideshow back before the Tour started, but the version I found was in Danish. Here's the version in English, still narrated by Danish filmmaker and Tour commentator Jørgen Leth.
It's photos from the Magnum photo library of Tours from the '30s through about 1990.
A nice respite from the doping news.
Landis speaks: Denies doping
Floyd Landis, seemingly the invisible man since the UCI said a rider had tested positive during this year's Tour, has spoken to SI.com's Austin Murphy.
Landis says he's a realist, and “can't be hopeful” that the B sample will measure differently from the A. Landis says he'll work with Spanish doctor Luis Hernandez, who has defended other riders in high testosterone cases, all successfully.
Landis offers two possible contributors to the positive: the cortisone treatment we've all heard about, and a thyroid condition he says has led him to take a daily dose of thyroid hormone.
I note that, as of 4:36, BelieveFloyd.com has been registered and parked. CafePress t-shirts can't be far behind.
Landis reaction from around the web
Salon's daily sports columnist King Kaufman quotes John Eustis, interviewed on ESPN's Dan Patrick show, and noting that every rider who has contested the testosterone test has prevailed. Eustis also claimed that Landis's testosterone levels were low, but the ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone was above 4:1, the new “positive” level this year.
Cortisone use (approved for use on Landis's hip) can reportedly raise testosterone levels, as can alcohol.
BBC Sport talked to Greg Lemond, who's apparently not in the “wait for the b-sample” crowd:
“I'm devastated and extremely disapointed,” he said. “I can't imagine the disappointment for Floyd and his family. I really did believe Floyd was clean.
”The problem is the sport is corrupt and it corrupts everybody. I still believe it was one of the cleanest Tours ever. But is it 100 percent clean? No.
“You will always find riders who transgress the laws. I really did believe Floyd was not among them, that he was clean. Hopefully, he will be able to tell the truth.”
Some links suggested by my amazingly astute readers:
Especially section 3, which addresses testosterone testing in sports.
An academic paper about the likelihood of false positives, particularly given the new 4:1 “presumption of guilt” value.
Arlene Landis, his mother, said Thursday that she wouldn't blame her son if he was taking medication to treat the pain in his injured hip, but “if it's something worse than that, then he doesn't deserve to win.”
“I didn't talk to him since that hit the fan, but I'm keeping things even keel until I know what the facts are,” she said in a phone interview from her home in Farmersville, Pa. “I know that this is a temptation to every rider but I'm not going to jump to conclusions ... It disappoints me.”
Later comments from Mrs. L: “My opinion is when he comes on top of this, everyone will think so much more of him. So that's what valleys are for, right?”
Audio should be available around 6 p.m., but a reader who heard the report says Pelkey believes Landis tested around 11:1 testosterone:epitestosterone, but did so because his normal testosterone level dwarfed a very low epitestosterone level.
German network ZDF suggests they may drop the Tour, and that a positive dope test for the maillot jaune might seal the deal:
“We signed a broadcasting contract for a sporting event, not a show demonstrating the performances of the pharmaceutical industry,” ZDF editor-in-chief Nikolaus Brender said.
Landis over threshold for testosterone at Tour
The Phonak team confirms that their Tour de France champion Floyd Landis is the rider whose A-sample tested positive.
Intense speculation had focused on Landis, after it was announced that the test was taken after Stage 17, his epic breakaway to Morzine. Contrary to a couple of reports, the test was positive not for stimulants, but for a too-high ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone.
The team website is unresponsive, but CyclingNews quotes a statement by the team:
“The team management and the rider were both totally surprised of this physiological result.
”The rider will ask in the upcoming days for the counter analysis to prove either that this result is coming from a natural process or that this is resulting from a mistake in the confirmation. In application of the Pro Tour Ethical Code, the rider will not race anymore until this problem is totally clear.
“If the result of the B sample analysis confirms the result of the A sample, the rider will be dismissed and will then pass the corresponding endocrinological examinations.”
Spanish investigators allege that testosterone patches were commonly prescribed by Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, at the center of the Operación Puerto investigation.
July 26, 2006
More on positive Tour rider
Jeremy Whittle reports for the Times of London that the rider who tested positive at the Tour is a “high-profile rider” who tested above the allowed threshold for testosterone, and did so after Stage 17, the stage to Morzine won by Floyd Landis after his 130-kilometer breakaway.
Whittle quotes UCI president Pat McQuaid, who refused to name the rider:
“I will say that I am extremely angry and feel very let down by this,” McQuaid said. “The credibility of the sport is at stake. The rider, his federation and his team have been informed of the situation.”
The Tour organization performs daily tests for the stage winner (Landis), the race leader (Oscar Pereiro on that day), and a random selection of 6-8 riders. Additionally, 2-3 teams are sometimes chosen randomly to be tested before a day's stage, but this positive is apparently a post-stage sample.
How many riders could put “the credibility of the sport” at stake? Landis, of course, Pereiro probably, Klöden I suppose -- he did make the podium, and precious few others.
Landis reportedly skipped a scheduled criterium appearance Wednesday; Whittle notes this and that neither Landis nor director Lelangue could be reached for comment, but says nothing about Pereiro.
On the other hand, the Providence Journal has an AP story that says that, while the UCI said the rider's national federation has been notified, USA Cycling spokesman Andy Lee said the organization has not been contacted, while the US Anti-Doping Agency's spokeswoman offered a “no comment.”
Update 7/27 8 a.m.
Procycling quotes Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet that the product involved was a stimulant, and that the federations for the US, France, Spain, and Italy have all denied the rider is registered with them. CSC has also said it was not one of their riders.
The organizer of the Acht van Chaam criterium in Holland, upset that Landis pulled out of the event without an explanation, has been unable to reach Landis or Phonak manager Lelangue.
Update 7/27 9:45 a.m.
VeloNews offers a good summary, adding that AFP has reported that the German federation was not contacted, excluding Klöden, and that Landis is scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show on Friday.
Also, I neglected a quote from Pat McQuaid mentioned in the Procycling story above: TuttoBiciWeb, an Italian website quotes the UCI president calling it “The worst scenario possible” (actually il peggior scenario possibile, since the site's in Italian).
One positive at Tour, ID awaits b-sample
The UCI announced that one rider tested positive during the Tour. The rider's ID, team, nationality and what he tested positive for will all be withheld pending tests on the rider's b-sample.
The same thing happened last year, and no action was taken against the rider, who tested positive for pseudoephedrine.
Landis lifts OLN live ratings 77 percent
The incredible comeback ride by Floyd Landis during Stage 17 also brought back OLN's drooping ratings.
Live viewership of Stage 17 was 77 percent higher than the battle on l'Alpe d'Huez the previous day. Overall viewership on the day rose 50 percent to 1.3 million for the day.
Through the balance of the race, the numbers stayed up, with viewership among men in three key demographics up by more than 90 percent.
The 2005 Tour, Lance Armstrong's last, averaged 1.6 million combined viewers per day, with an OLN-record 1.7 million tuning in for live coverage of the race's final stage.
July 25, 2006
Ullrich AND Basso negotiating with Discovery?
Eurosport reports that Jan Ullrich is in discussions with Discovery Channel, as both seek to return to the top step at the Tour de France.
In an interview with Swiss newspaper Blick (in German), Ullrich said he and Discovery have had contact but have no agreement.
"I have always said I will finish with a Tour victory," said Ullrich, winner in only his second Tour de France, in 1997. "Unfortunately, this year I was prevented from doing so. That's why I will try to add another year."
In a throw-in paragraph at the end, they note: “Basso is another rider recently tipped with a move to Discovery Channel, along with 2006 winner Floyd Landis and Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer.”
Floyd Landis roundup
Tour winner Floyd Landis is racing at least a couple of European criteriums before returning to the US for some personal appearances, including a race in Chicago in mid-August, and a consultation on his osteonecrotic hip, which he hopes to have replaced in the next month.
Depending on the checkup, he may also race the Tour of Britain from August 29th through September 3rd.
CyclingNews offers a Floyd Landis rider's profile with a photo gallery of Landis throughout the Tour, and another angle on the post-race interview Landis gave reporters.
Greg Lemond called this year's Tour “the best of all time,” and said Landis is “clean, and what's more, he's a great guy.”
July 24, 2006
Leipheimer signs with DiscoveryThePaceline.com | Discovery Channel signs new riders
Levi Leipheimer will return to the Discovery Channel team after stints with Rabobank and Gerolsteiner.
Interesting to square this signing with Johan Bruyneel's comments, quoted on the Tour's live race report for Stage 20:
“We wore the yellow jersey and won a stage but our objectives were greater than that. Popovych is a rider with a lot of class who is also very aggressive. Right now, however, we will consider some changes that should allow us to be better next year. I believe we need to be more focused on having just one leader.”
Leipheimer's upside: Multiple Tour Top 10s (13th this year), Dauphiné winner this year, American, gorgeous former pro rider wife.
Leipheimer's downside: He's 33 and looks (facially) more like Lance Armstrong every time I look at him.
Also signed were Sergio Paulinho, implicated but apparently cleared in the Operación Puerto investigation, and Latvia's Tomas Vaitkus.
Bruyneel says the team expects to sign 2 or 3 more riders.
Thanks to reader ewmayer for the link...
Update 7/25 a.m. ThePaceline has removed the link, for now (update to the update: It's back), but I'm assuming it's a legitimate release made public too soon, and the signing will be announced later this morning. Meantime, there's a story on Discovery Channel's Tour, and its search for a new leader, at the Houston Chronicle website.
VeloNews confirms the transfer by way of Specialized, Leipheimer's bike sponsor. Leipheimer will next defend his title at the Tour of Germany, with the transfer effective January 1.
Quoting from a story today in Bild, Eurosport says that both manager Olaf Ludwig and director Mario Kummer have been fired by T-Mobile, to be replaced by T-Mobile women's team leader Bob Stapleton and former rider Rolf Aldag.
T-Mobile confirms that changes are coming, but says any greater role for Stapleton and Aldag wouldn't necessarily require a change in Ludwig's job.
Michael Rogers, their three-time world TT champion, has repeatedly complained about the team's tactics in the Tour, and the sponsors apparently agree, hence the changes.
Also, despite twice finishing on the Tour podium, and clearly riding as the team's leader in the Tour, Andreas Klöden says he's being ignored by the team's management:
“My agent Tony Rominger has already received three contract offers but none has come from T-Mobile even though I've already expressed my desire to continue to ride for this team.
This despite Klöden's impressive showing after missing the run-up to the Tour because of a March shoulder injury, and his conviction that he could win the 2007 Tour.
Also, over at ThePaceline.com (free reg. req.), Chris Brewer tips a major signing by Discovery Channel, to be announced tomorrow morning.
Landis extends with Phonak-iShares
CyclingNews reports that all 9 riders from Phonak's Tour squad have extended. Axel Merckx signed for an additional year during the Tour, while Floyd Landis has extended for 1 year, and Bert Grabsch, Robbie Hunter, Nicolas Jalabert, Koos Moerenhout, Alexandre Moos, Victor Hugo Peña, and Miguel Angel Perdiguero all re-upped for 2 years.
CN.com also notes that Phonak was the big winner for Tour prize money (all totals in euros):
1) Phonak 496,280
2) Caisse d'Epargne 236,330
3) T-Mobile 219,660
4) CSC 160,580
5) Rabobank 141,870
6) Davitamon-Lotto 137,820
7) Lampre 76,850
8) AG2R 75,800
9) Saunier Duval 71,170
10) Gerolsteiner 66,830
11) Crédit Agricole 52,240
12) Bouygues Telecom 41,750
13) Milram 41,030
14) Cofidis 37,160
15) Discovery Channel 34,130
16) Liquigas 33,130
17) Française des Jeux 31,710
18) Quick-Step 30,970
19) Euskaltel 28,590
20) Agritubel 15,200
Note Discovery Channel in 15th.
July 23, 2006
Ekimov: “My last Tour de France”
Ekimov, an Olympic champion in the time trial and track pursuit and winner of stages in the Tour de France, Tour de Suisse, Vuelta a España, and overall winner at the Tour du Pont, Three Days of De Panne, Championship of Zurich and other races, finished his 15th Tour in 15 starts.
He had previously suggested he wanted to go for Joop Zoetemelk's record for Tour participations, 16, next year.
“Actually, I can say that today was my last Tour de France, so 15 participations...I wish to do more, but I think it's pretty much done.”
Ekimov led the field onto the Champs Elysees, and waved to the crowd lining the course.
Discovery Channel's fan site, ThePaceline.com, reports that Ekimov will retire in September and become an assistant director for the team.
Armstrong: “We would take Floyd back”
Seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong said Sunday he was impressed by Floyd Landis' Tour victory, and that Discovery would like to sign the Phonak captain:
“We've always been interested in Floyd, he's a damn good rider,” Armstrong said Sunday. “We would take Floyd back. We've pursued him for some time now.”
In my opinion, Landis doesn't want to go back to Discovery. I think he would be concerned about going back into Armstrong's shadow. Even retired, Armstrong is everywhere, making pronouncements to reporters from the top of l'Alpe d'Huez and the Hotel Crillon, publicly mending fences with Jean-Marie Leblanc, riding RAGBRAI, hosting the ESPYs.
I think that tactically, Discovery would have provided better support than Phonak for Landis, but I also suspect that if Landis stays with the team, iShares will want to protect their investment by signing a few strong support riders to bolster the returning Phonak squad.
Armstrong from Saturday:
His ride on Thursday was epic. He showed a champion's resolve. I look forward to seeing him up on the podium in Paris. If it couldn't be one of my guys from Discovery Channel, th[e]n I am thrilled to see Floyd continue the success of American cycling.
Vansevenant takes the Lanterne Rouge
Samuel Abt profiles Wim Vansevenant and Jimmy Casper, the Stage 1 winner who has twice been the lanterne rouge, or last-placed rider in the Tour. The two were head-to-head yesterday, as Vansevenant finished 11:26 back, in 131st, but Casper topped (bottomed?) him, 138th at 13:37, closing the gap to only 16 seconds.
Vansevenant got some bonus time at the day's second sprint, but he still managed to finish 138th (out of 139) today, losing another 1:54 on the day to cement his hold on the 2006 Tour's lanterne rouge.
Vansevenant finished 4:02:01 behind Floyd Landis.
“Lanterne rouge is not a position you go for,” Vansevenant said. “It comes for you.”
Hushovd adds Paris to Strasbourg; Landis triumphs
A late escape attempt by Discovery Channel may have overcooked Robbie McEwen, as Credit Agricole's Thor Hushovd easily outsprinted Davitamon-Lotto's sprint king to take the final stage of the 2006 Tour de France. CSC's Stuart O'Grady, recovering from a fractured spine suffered early in the race, took 3rd on the day.
Hushovd completed an unusual set of bookends, winning the Prologue time trial 3 weeks ago yesterday and now taking the final stage into Paris.
Floyd Landis stayed near the front early and stayed out of the dicey sprint at the end to nail down his first-ever Tour de France victory, finishing 69th on the day, 8 seconds behind Hushovd. It's the 8th straight US win of the race, after Lance Armstrong's 7 consecutive wins.
McEwen can take some solace from his 3rd green jersey win, resulting from his 3 stage wins.
Michael Rasmussen's tremendous breakaway win to La Toussuire, overshadowed by Landis's attack the following day, shot him to the lead, and the overall win, in the climber's polka-dot jersey competition.
Damiano Cunego, already a winner of the Giro d'Italia, takes the best young rider's white jersey, just 38 seconds ahead of Marcus Fothen of Gerolsteiner. The pair were about 90 minutes ahead of the next competitor in the under-25 competition.
Saunier Duval's David de la Fuente, the climbing jersey leader until Rasmussen's big day out front, takes the overall “most combative rider” prize.
Landis took his final yellow jersey of the Tour with his daughter Ryan on the podium.
Post-race interview with Frankie Andreu: Landis says, “Right now, I have no intention of switching teams.” Leaves a little wiggle room, but sounds like the iShares team (as Phonak will be called next year) has its Tour captain for 2007.
1) Thor Hushovd, Credit Agricole, Norway, in 3:56:52
2) Robbie McEwen, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, same time
3) Stuart O'Grady, CSC, Australia, s.t.
4) Erik Zabel, Milram, Germany, s.t.
5) Luca Paolini, Liquigas, Italy, s.t.
6) Samuel Dumoulin, AG2R, France, s.t.
7) Bernhard Eisel, Française des Jeux, Austria, s.t.
8) Anthony Geslin, Bouyges Telecom, France, s.t.
9) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
10) Peter Wrolich, Gerolsteiner, Austria, s.t.
1) Floyd Landis, Phonak, USA, in 89:39:30
2) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at :57
3) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, Germany, at 1:29
4) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 3:13
5) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, at 5:08
6) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 7:06
7) Cyril Dessel, AG2R, France, at 8:41
8) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 9:37
9) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 12:05
10) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, at 15:07
Final overall standings
Posted by Frank Steele on July 23, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Denis Menchov, Erik Dekker, Floyd Landis, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Oscar Pereiro, Robbie McEwen, Stage results, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)
Stage 19 ITT photo galleries
Commuter Challenge with a "Landis"
The latest commuter challenge occurred Friday and included a "landis." I was just spinning along and a commuter rode up to me, said, "something, something Landis" and then accelerated off never to be seen again. Normally, I'd see a commuter again at a light, train crossing, or on the trail, but not on that day. He pretty much time-trialed Landis style to work and dropped me. I hope he set a record time for that effort and I'm sure a lasting legacy of this year's tour will be everyone wanting to ride (or commute) like Landis.
To all the Bike Huggers
When Frank and I were first discussing Bike Hugger, nearly a year ago, we planned on launching it in time for the Tour, STP, and the summer cycling season. That all went well and according to plan, but we didn't expect such a great response and for the blog to find an audience so quickly. I've published lots of blogs for clients and my own projects, even wrote a book about blogging, and have never had readers write demanding schwag! In response, we're rushing shirts and more into print.
So to Frank and all the fellow Bike Huggers, big props and thanks. There'll be even more Bike Hugger going into the Fall and next season, including a sponsored women's cycling team, socks, stickers, and maybe a whole line. We'll be discussing all that, the world's most amazing ride, this year's tour, and more over coffee and on rides.
Stage 20 on the road
For the first and only time this Tour, OLN's “Pre-Race Coverage” actually starts before today's stage. There are two 4th-Category “climbs” on the day, but they'll have no impact on the climber's jersey race, which will be won by Rabobank's Michael Rasmussen. Similarly, there are two intermediate sprint lines and bonus points at the stage finish, but they'll have no impact on the sprinter's jersey race, to be won for a 3rd time by Davitamon-Lotto's Robbie McEwen. French champion Florent Brard of Caisse d'Epargne couldn't start this morning after breaking his hand during yesterday's time trial. Robbie Hunter of Phonak also doesn't start, as he finished outside the time limit yesterday. That means 139 riders start Stage 19. As retiring Tour director Jean-Marie LeBlanc signals the end of the neutral zone, Landis and Pereiro ride side-by-side. White jersey Damiano Cunego rides just behind, next to Viatcheslav Ekimov, today finishing his 15th Tour de France. Fifteen starts, fifteen finishes. Robbie McEwen in the green jersey rides at the field's left front with Michael Rasmussen. Photos all around, as riders and the journalists get photos of all the jersey leaders. Landis poses with the obligatory flute of champagne, Phonak poses stretched across the road in front of the field, and riders chat peacefully in the peloton. With 110 kilometers to ride, Michael Rasmussen comes to the head of the Phonak parade, and leads the field over the day's first little climb, to increase his polka-dot jersey lead. He's got 166 points, while Landis teammates Moerenhout and Grabsch are 2nd and 3rd. Some idiot is standing in the middle of the road; the riders smoothly split and go around, but that's the sort of thing that can quickly change the face of the Tour. At the second 4th-Category climb, it's Victor Hugo Peña of Phonak ahead of CSC's Fränk Schleck and Caisse d'Epargne's David Arroyo. With that, the climbing competition is over: Rasmussen 166, Landis 131, David de la Fuente 113. As they approach the first sprint line of the day, Robbie McEwen rides out of the pack on teammate and lanterne rouge Wim Vansevenant's wheel. As they near the line, McEwen pulls alongside, and pushes Vansevenant across the line first. Then McEwen, then Victor Hugo Peña, leading the peloton at the head of the Phonak team. Vansevenant picks up 6 bonus seconds, narrowing the battle for the last-placed rider: he's now only 10 seconds behind Jimmy Caspar of Cofidis. The pace is picking up, and Phonak is leading the peloton to the Champs-Elysees for the 1st circuit. Discovery Channel's Viatcheslav Ekimov comes to the front and leads the field to the Place de la Concorde, in recognition of his 15th Tour finish. He's ridden 36,000 miles in the Tour alone. Eki goes back into the field, and quickly we have our first attack; Bouyges Telecom's Walter Beneteau, pursued by Carlos da Cruz, and quickly absorbed. Next it's a Euskaltel, Aitor Hernandez, and he's got 50 meters. Hernandez leads at the close of the first lap, and is captured. Commesso is off the front with a Saunier Duval, David Millar, who is right in the gutter, 4 inches from the curb. They can't get a good gap and are recaptured. Cunego has flatted! He's off the back. If he loses 36 seconds, he'll lose the white jersey, and he's soloing back. Jens Voigt has attacked off the front, with Fabian Wegmann and Mikel Astarloza; Wegmann leads Astaloza and Voigt over the sprint line. They're caught, but not by the peloton, by about 5 other riders. If they form a group, It's a strong one. Horner is hear, a Discovery -- looks like Popovych -- is here, Johann van Summeren is here. Horner and Van Summeren are disrupting the break as well as they can. Philippe Gilbert, Garcia-Acosta, Reuben Lobato, Christian Knees, are there. Bothcarov, Albasini, and Da Cruz are chasing to the escapees. Cunego is back on the rear of the peloton. Liquigas and Cofidis have missed the move, and they're powering hard at the front of the field, 20 seconds behind the 15-rider break. It was as much as 40 seconds. Gilbert attacks out of the escape, and Chris Horner jumps onto his wheel. They now lead the other escapees by 50+ meters. They're reintegrated. Gerolsteiner's Sebastian Lang flats with 3 laps to ride, and it takes a long time to get a wheel change. Six riders Millar, Astarloza, Chris Horner, Christophe Mengin, Vincente Garcia-Acosta and David Millar lead the race, but are only 9 seconds ahead of the peloton. The rest of that break are back in the field. Padrnos is in a 5-man group chasing, and it's been gobbled by the Liquigas and Cofidis-led pack. As they come through the flamme rouge for 2 laps to go, Astarloza raises the pace, and his breakmates match it, but the field is breathing down their neck. They're captured. Landis is right at the front as they take a 180-degree turn. Française des Jeux leads the pack, and now Davitamon-Lotto comes forward. Discovery is coming up the right side of the pack en masse as they come to the beginning of the final lap of the day. Gonzales of Agritubel is gone up the left side; 1 lap, 6.8 kilometers, less than 4 miles to race. Three DVL riders, a QuickStep and an FDJ push the pace at the front, and Gonzales is reabsorbed. Jens Voigt takes a little dig, but nothing doing. With a half-lap, Flecha tries to go, gets 5 meters, and here comes Ekimov! He's riding them off his wheel. Schleck is behind him; Hincapie and Popovych are just behind. Hincapie and Popovych are off the front! Popovych goes super hard. He's countered by a Liquigas and Calzati. Popovych drops off and the sprinters are coming forward, with 400 meters to go. Zabel follows McEwen, Hushovd goes hard , and Thor Hushovd takes the Prologue and the final stage of the 2006 Tour de France! Incredible sprint by Hushovd, getting maybe 5 meters on McEwen, who takes the green jersey. Floyd Landis finishes safely in the field, and completed his amazing 2006 Tour victory.
Crazy Jane, back with a vengeanceDaily Peloton's Tour coverage (anywhere you see “Updated and Delicieux”), and whose weblog, Le Tour Delicieux, remains in my blogroll, despite being silent for two years (2! years!), in the hope that she'll turn her considerable talents back to the Tour. She's also (along with Velogal and Marianne's Twenty-One Stages, others?) one of the few women writing about the Tour.
Jane is in Paris for the Tour finale, and has posted a number of terrific pictures of riders before yesterday's La Creusot TT, including Hincapie (above), Viatcheslav Ekimov, Gilberto Simoni, Thomas Voeckler, Jens Voigt, Chris Horner, Axel Merckx (times two), Vladimir Karpets, Stefano Garzelli, Stuart O'Grady, and Didi “Tour devil” Senft, plus some fan shots.
July 22, 2006
Honchar takes ITT, Landis takes the Tour
I'm hesitant to predict anything in this unpredictable Tour, but Floyd Landis will win the 2006 Tour de France.
Ukraine's Sergei Honchar took his 2nd time trial stage win of the Tour, ahead of teammate Andreas Klöden, while overnight 2nd-place rider Carlos Sastre couldn't hang, and dropped to 4th overall.
Overnight yellow jersey Oscar Pereiro did the fleece proud, finishing 4th on the day, ahead of scads of time-trial specialists, to keep 2nd place, only 59 seconds behind Landis, and 30 seconds ahead of Klöden.
But the big story was Landis, who rode his own race, setting the fastest time at the first time check and taking 3rd on the day. He'll be the 3rd American to win the Tour, following 3 by Greg Lemond, and the last 7 by Lance Armstrong.
Damiano Cunego solidified his hold on the white jersey, now 36 seconds ahead of Gerolsteiner's Marcus Fothen, with a 10th-place finish on the day.
T-Mobile, with the top 2 finishers and world time trial champion Michael Rogers in 19th, moves 17:20 ahead of CSC in the team competition, which they'll most likely win for the 3rd straight year.
1) Sergei Honchar, T-Mobile, Ukraine, in 1:07:45
2) Andreas Klödën, T-Mobile, Germany, at :41
3) Floyd Landis, Phonak, USA, at 1:11
4) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, at 2:40
5) Sebastian Lang, Gerolsteiner, Germany, at 3:18
6) David Zabriskie, CSC, USA, at 3:35
7) Viatcheslav Ekimov, Discovery Channel, Russia, at 3:41
8) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, at 3:41
9) Bert Grabsch, Phonak, Germany, at 3:43
10) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, Italy, at 3:44
1) Floyd Landis, Phonak, USA, in 85:42:30
2) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at :59
3) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, Germany, at 1:29
4) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 3:13
5) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, at 5:08
6) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 7:06
7) Cyril Dessel, AG2R, France, at 8:41
8) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 9:37
9) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 12:05
10) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, at 15:07
Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Carlos Sastre, Damiano Cunego, Dave Zabriskie, Floyd Landis, Michael Rogers, Oscar Pereiro, Sergei Honchar, Stage results, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006, Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack
More Floyd Landis facts
I'm getting a lot of Google referers for Floyd Landis bios, so I wanted to point out my 3 favorites. Two of these are by Daniel Coyle, but one is “BHA” (Before Hip Announcement) and one is AHA. The BHA story includes a couple of great photos, including the Robert Maxwell shot at right.
This is the most recent, and is AHA.
Landis interviewed by sometimes-roomy Dave Zabriskie of CSC.
BHA, with great photos.
Also, Landis was named the “Person of the Week” on ABC's World News Tonight last night. Can't find the video, but that link's a synopsis.
Stage 19 ITT underway
Today, we have the most important Tour time trial of the last 10 years, at least. The only recent TT that comes close is 2003's Stage 19, when Jan Ullrich crashed, allowing a vulnerable Lance Armstrong to take the thinnest Tour victory of his career.
It's 57 kilometers, and Floyd Landis will leave at 10:09 Eastern, 3 minutes before CSC's Carlos Sastre, who will leave 3 minutes before Caisse d'Epargne's Oscar Pereiro. We should get plenty of split-screen action, as Pereiro leads Sastre by only 12 seconds and Landis by only 30 seconds.
One for the old guys early, as Discovery Channel's Viatcheslav Ekimov has come in with the best time of the first 60 riders, at 1:11:26.59.
Second is Landis teammate Bert Grabsch, just 2 seconds behind.
Zabriskie comes through, scorching the 2nd half of the course. He didn't show up in the top 5 at either of the early time checks, he was 3rd at the 3rd time check, and he's 6 seconds faster than Ekimov, at 1:11:20.9. And almost immediately, Gerolsteiner's Sebastian Lang, the 69th finisher, cuts 17 seconds off Zabriskie's time: 1:11:03.83.
Sergei Honchar has beaten Lang's times at TC1 and TC2; 2:07 (!) faster than Lang at the 34-kilometer check.
Hincapie rolls out; 31 riders to go. Out on the course, he fidgets with his computer sensor. He's sporting a new paint scheme on his helmet -- a Flying Tigers-style shark head. Pavel Padrnos has the same, so it's probably a team thing -- promoting Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, perhaps?
David Millar comes in at 1:11:46, 5th for now.
Chavanel comes through TC2 with a tissue stuffed in his left nostril; the commentators think he's had a nosebleed.
Honchar 1:07:45.81! That's likely to be the time to beat.
Phonak's Robbie Hunter, who finished in 1:25:54, will be outside the (fastest time + 25 percent) elimination time.
Michael Rasmussen has set off; he had a catastrophic last time trial last year, falling off, switching bikes, and losing 7:47 to Lance Armstrong.
Marcus Fothen is on the course, looking to retake the young rider's white jersey, currently worn by Damiano Cunego, who sets off next.
Levi Leipheimer is off, wearing the red race numbers awarded to yesterday's most agressive rider.
World time trial champion Michael Rogers is off, and we're down to the Top 10.
Vande Velde comes through TC2 just behind teammate Zabriskie.
Chris Horner finished in 1:16:41, which will be mid-pack.
Chavanel finishes in a respectable 1:12:17.44.
Menchov sets off, currently 6th.
Cadel Evans sets off, looking for the best placing ever in the Tour by an Australian. Phil Anderson twice finished 5th, which is where Evans sits, 39 seconds behind T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden, who sets off 3 minutes behind him.
Hincapie finishes in 1:13:15. Cunego has actually been faster than Fothen at TC1, coming through 4 seconds slower than Lang. Is he going too hard early?
Landis is waiting in the start house. No smiles this morning. Karpets 1:12:42.
Landis is out. Looks smooth. Sastre rolls, as Pereiro waits just behind.
Sastre looks tentative to me -- he's staying up on the brake hoods on sections where Landis was on his aerobars.
Pereiro is rolling. Everyone is on the course or done now.
Vande Velde finishes in 1:12:37.44. That will factor in to the CSC/T-Mobile battle for the team competition.
Sastre is 1:05 slower than Landis at TC1! Pereiro is the only one left, and he comes through only 10 seconds slower than Landis; that's an amazing time for Pereiro after 16kms of 57 today.
Cunego likes that white jersey; at TC3, he's 5 seconds slower than Zabriskie, and 35 seconds faster than Fothen.
The split screen view has Landis and Pereiro sitting equal on the road now, with Landis 4 minutes shy of Time Check 2.
Evans hits TC2 in 43:34; Klöden hits it in 41:52.9 behind only Honchar so far.
Landis is losing time to Honchar: 41:45.9 at the 2nd time check.
Sastre is riding off the podium: He hits TC2 in 44:05. Klöden is already 2 minutes faster than that.
Pereiro: 42.42:50 -- Landis is the leader on the road!
T-Mobile's Rogers comes through the finish in 1:12:20.72. Looks like T-Mobile will win the team competition.
Landis nears the 3rd time check, at 51.5 kilometers. Pereiro looks like he's hurting on the road. Klöden is closing in on Cadel Evans; he hit TC3 47 seconds behind Honchar 1:03:22 to Honchars 1:02:36. Landis comes in 1:03:43.
Dessel finishes in 1:13:43.57. Menchov comes to the line: 1:12:18.55; he'll go top 20 on the day, maybe top 15.
Klöden catches Evans with about a kilometer to go. He sits way too long in Evans' draft, and sprints to the finish in 1:08:26.17. He didn't catch Honchar, but may be 2nd on the stage.
Sastre hits TC3 in 1:07:02, more than 3:30 behind Klöden. Pereiro clocks 1:05:14. Looks like Pereiro will hold Klöden off for 2nd -- he was faster than Lang, Zabriskie, and Ekimov at TC3.
Sastre comes to the line in 1:12:27.58; he'll be 20th on the day. Here comes Pereiro, gritting his teeth, comes out of the saddle: 1:10:25.19, and that does it: Floyd Landis will win the Tour de France!
Posted by Frank Steele on July 22, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Christian Vande Velde, Damiano Cunego, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rogers, Oscar Pereiro, Sergei Honchar, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (5)
July 21, 2006
Beer: the Tour rider's energy drink
Jason O'Grady's Foaming Rant for this week is a little foamier than usual. He wants to know just what was in the beer that Floyd Landis said Wednesday would help him deal with his 10-minute loss on Stage 16.
Then, at a press conference on Thursday, after Landis chased down an 11-man breakaway, killed them and ate them, built a new bicycle out of their bones, and roared away in a pillar of fire to win the stage to Morzine and jump back to within 30 seconds of the yellow jersey, he mentioned beer once again.
Since we've got to know what wondrous potion could turn us all from Freds to Floyds, O'Grady is undertaking an experiment on our behalf, working his way from Anchor Steam to Zywiec Porter (what, no Abita Ale?) in the name of science.
The Angel has landedfeatured on the Specialized website, although there are no details of her appearance.
The Angel was launched at the Tour of California, and was incredibly popular there.
Tour viewership down in Germany, France, U.S.
Turns out the decline in Tour TV ratings this year isn't localized to the United States.
For the first 16 days of the Tour, 23 percent fewer French viewers watched each stage, while in Germany, viewing fell by 43 percent. France in particular has had an outstanding Tour, with 3 stage winners, 2 riders in the top 10, and a remarkable race by French team AG2R. Of course, both countries had teams that went deep into the World Cup, compounding whatever fall-off may have resulted from Operación Puerto.
In the US, as previously reported, viewership has been down by 52 percent, but OLN was expecting a decrease with Lance Armstrong's retirement. Whether the amazing return of Floyd Landis and the crucial time trial tomorrow can turn things around remains to be seen.
Tosatto scores Stage 18 win
A lot of firsts in today's stage: it was Matteo Tosatto's first-ever Tour stage win, the first win of the Tour for an Italian, and the first win for QuickStep, which brought world champion Tom Boonen to the Tour to win some stages and compete for the green jersey. Instead, it was Boonen's lead-out who finally brought the team a stage victory.
Tosatto was part of a 15-man breakaway that included Levi Leipheimer, Dave Zabriskie, and Sylvain Calzati, and which saw its lead on a quiet peloton extend to 8:00 at the finish line. Gerolsteiner's Ronny Scholz and Cofidis's Cristian Moreni escaped to form a trio to the last kilometer. Scholz had nothing left in the finishing sprint, and Tosatto had to attack from the front, but still he held off Moreni to the line.
The stage had very little impact on the yellow jersey race; Leipheimer moves up from 18th to 13th, but still sits 15:01 back of Oscar Pereiro.
1) Matteo Tosatto, QuickStep, Italy, in 4:16:15
2) Cristian Moreni, Cofidis, Italy, same time
3) Ronny Scholz, Gerolsteiner, Germany, s.t.
4) Manuel Quinziato, Liquigas, Italy, at :47
5) Sebastian Hinault, Credit Agricole, France, at 1:03
6) Jerome Pineau, Bouyges Telecom, France, same time
7) Sylvain Calzati, AG2R, France, s.t.
8) Benoit Vaugrenard, Française des Jeux, France, s.t.
9) Inaki Isasi, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, s.t.
10) Egoi Martinez, Discovery Channel, Spain, s.t.
1) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, in 84:33:04
2) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at :12
3) Floyd Landis, Phonak, USA, at :30
4) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, Germany, at 2:29
5) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, at 3:08
6) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 4:14
7) Cyril Dessel, AG2R, France, at 4:24
8) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 5:45
9) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 8:16
10) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, at 12:13
T-Mobile fax: Jan, you're fired
On his personal website, Jan Ullrich says T-Mobile has fired him (in German | weak Google translation) -- by fax.
T-Mobile manager Olaf Ludwig has confirmed the report. Ullrich says his representatives and the team are to meet next week to discuss an agreement, but if they can't negotiate something, Ullrich says he will sue.
"I am very disappointed about the fact the decision was not communicated to me personally but by T-Mobile's lawyers in a fax ... I think it's a shame that I have given so many years of good service and for all that I have done for the team, that I be seen as just a fax number."
Dude, whoa, Landis
I think lots of cellphone calls went like this yesterday morning, "dude, whoa, DUDE, Landis!" I was getting updates on the train, Pam had coworkers at her desk most of the morning, and Greg (a teammate, and cycling buddy) said his customers were calling him all morning saying things like, "that was OUTLANDIS!"
That incredible ride has the magic of transcending the avid fans to those who only watch it once a year -- I also saw instant messages light up with Landis exclamations. My neighbor was clearly "very excited" by the ride, asking Pam all kinds of questions and during a panel discussion yesterday at Webvisions, it was all I wanted to talk about!
My favorite quote was from Hinault referring to the ride, "I was bad yesterday but I’m the best and I’ll prove that today." It can work, it’s like a Hinault Coup (he's good, cause he was like me!)." And what Floyd said in his press conference, "you better drink some Coke, cause I'm going."
It was the best and most incredible ride I've ever seen. Dude, whoa, Landis!
So, who did you call? Was your phone ringing with Landis calls?
Stage 18 on the road
Stage 18 should be fairly quiet, but nothing in this Tour has gone to script.
Oscar Freire didn't take the start; David Lopez Garcia of Eukaltel abandoned during the stage. Freire was in 2nd in the green jersey competition.
Discovery Channel has been active today; Yaroslav Popovych attacked with Saunier Duval's David Millar, and took the first sprint of the day. Robbie McEwen actually launched a field sprint to take 3rd, or 2 points, at that sprint.
Liquigas chased the pair down, and at around 48 kilometers ridden, a 15-man escape went free, including:
Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer and Ronny Scholz, Rabobank's Juan Antonio Flecha, Discovery Channel's Egoi Martinez, Davitamon-Lotto's Mario Aerts, CSC's Dave Zabriskie, T-Mobile's Patrik Sinkewitz, AG2R's Sylvain Calzati, QuickStep's Matteo Tosatto, Credit Agricole's Sebastian Hinault, Euskaltel's Inaki Isasi, Bouyges Telecom's Jerome Pineau, Française des Jeux's Benoit Vaugrenard, Cristian Moreni of Cofidis, and Manuel Quinziato of Liquigas.
On the day's first climb, the break went out to 4:00 ahead of the peloton, with Aerts, Zabriski, Hinault, and Calzati taking points on the 3rd-Category climb.
The pace has been very high this morning, averaging 48.4 kilometers/hour for the day's first 2 hours.
Leipheimer is the best-placed rider in the break, and his group is now starting up the 2nd-Category Col du Berthiand, with a 3:21 gap. This climb looks like a springboard for an attack, but it's 68 kilometers from the finish.
Calzati paces the break over the top. It's mostly downhill from here, with a little 4th-Category climb in 9 kilometers on the way down to Mâcon.
Caisse d'Epargne is working at the front of the peloton. Florent Brard leads, with Oscar Pereiro a few places back. Phonak has a few riders up there as well, sheltering Landis. The peloton is over the Col du Berthiand, with a gap of 3:45.
Lepheimer leads the 15-rider break, intact, over the Cote de Chambod, with the peloton 3:10 behind. Saunier Duval still leads the field.
Calzati attacks the break. It's split the 15-man group. Martinez has bridged, Leipheimer comes up, and they've recaptured him. As they get him back, Inaki Isasi goes, and Leipheimer follows him up the road. Sinkewitz is trying to bridge, but the group isn't cooperating well. Jerome Pineau goes, and he's got a gap, but well behind Isasi and Leipheimer.
Pineau is recaptured, but Leipheimer and Isasi have 30 seconds on the 13-man chase group, and 4:03 on the peloton with 46 kilometers to ride.
Robbie McEwen sprints out of the field, ahead of the Saunier Duval's and waves his arms -- he's chasing the lead motorcyle out ahead of the group. He felt the lead moto was letting the Saunier Duvals creep up too close.
With less than 40 kilometers to ride, Leipheimer and Isasi maintain about 30 seconds on the break, and have almost 4:30 to the field.
The break is slowly bringing Leipheimer and Isasi back. Now Leipheimer lifts the pace, but Isasi matches him. The gap is 25 seconds to the break, and 5:10 to the field, with less than 30 kilometers to ride.
Leipheimer leads Isasi over the day's last intermediate sprint; the chase group comes through just 16 seconds later. They've got Leipheimer and Isasi in sight. The gap to the peloton keeps going out; it's 5:46 with 26 kilometers to ride.
The break has finally recaptured Leipheimer and Isasi, with 20 kilometers to ride and a 6:46 gap to the field.
After a brief detente, Ronny Scholz has shot out of the breakaway. Tosatto and Moreni are chasing, as Scholz passes through 15 kilometers to ride.
Tosatto and Moreni catch Scholz. The break is splintered; Flecha, Sinkewitz, Leipheimer, Pineau, and Quinziato are chasing together, with 7 riders a few seconds behind. The gap to the field is more than 8 minutes.
Now the 12 chasers reform, and spend a few seconds looking for motivation, before Hinault attacks, followed by Flecha. They're back together again. With 7 kilometers to go, Scholz, Tosatto, and Moreni have 36 seconds on the chase.
Quinziato is trying to ride across, but the gap is 41 seconds. The rest of the break is looking for someone to chase, and nobody's stepping up. The 3 men up front still work together with 5 kilometers to ride.
With 3k to ride, it's 40 seconds out to Quinziato. Scholz sees he has a gap, and lifts the pace, but Tosatto rces back on. Now with 2 k to ride, Scholz again opens a gap, and Tosatto pulls Moreni back across. They're swinging from one side of the road to the other as they come to the flamme rouge, 1 kilometer to the line.
Scholz is 1st, then Tosatto, then Moreni. 300 meters to ride, and Tosatto picks it up, now Tosatto goes hard, and Moreni has his wheel, but Moreni can't come around, and Tosatto takes his first Tour de France stage win, and the first of the Tour for QuickStep. Quinziato is 4th at :49. Hinault takes the breakaway sprint at about 1:04 for 5th.
Here comes the field sprint for 16th, Française des Jeux's Bernhard Eisel leads Luca Paolini and Erik Zabel at the head of the peloton 8 full minutes behind Tosatto.
Here's a shot I took of Tosatto suffering up Lookout Mountain in April's Tour de Georgia time trial.
Stage 17 photo galleries
Landis, Sastre, Cunego, by Caroline Yang.
See ya, more water, and Sastre, by Graham Watson.
2007 Tour of California route announced
The Amgen Tour of California will once again kick off the high-level pro season in the United States next year, running from February 18th-25th from San Francisco down to Long Beach.
- Here's the stage list:
- Prologue: Sunday, Feb. 18 - San Francisco
- Stage 1: Monday, Feb. 19 - Sausalito to Santa Rosa
- Stage 2: Tuesday, Feb. 20 - Santa Rosa to Sacramento
- Stage 3: Wednesday, Feb. 21 - Stockton to San Jose
- Stage 4: Thursday, Feb. 22 - Seaside to San Luis Obispo
- Stage 5: Friday, Feb. 23 - Solvang time trial
- Stage 6: Saturday, Feb. 24 - Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita
- Stage 7: Sunday, Feb. 25 - Long Beach circuit race
Floyd Landis won this year's inaugural race. Coincidentally, two great shots of today's stage winner, Floyd Landis, at this year's Tour of California were reposted at Flickr today:
Stage 17 wrapup
Eurosport calls it “a performance that will go down as one of the greatest in the history of the Tour de France.” ProCycling: “an exploit worthy of Eddy Merckx.” Bob Roll says it's “the greatest single day ride in the history of the Tour de France.”
What Floyd Landis did today is all that even if you completely ignore his ride yesterday. Throw that in, and it's just incomparable.
The analysis after yesterday's Landis disaster was that he was out, because none of the GC riders' teams would give Landis enough rope today. The problem with that analysis is that it didn't consider that Landis might just go out and take as much as he needed. That's what he did. Landis versus 142 riders today just wasn't a fair fight; the peloton needed more guys.
Landis, quoted in The Guardian:
“I want to win the Tour, whatever I['ve] got to do, if I had a bad day, I had to make up for it,” said Landis.
“I told everybody last night that if somebody wants to win this race they're going to have to earn it.”
It was CSC who took charge of trying to lasso Landis on the day's final climb, but their Fränk Schleck said they also made an effort to reel him in when he escaped:
“We didn't let him go,” said the 26-year-old, “he was just so strong at the beginning and we didn't think he would make it to the end. He made it to the end and he's a f***ing strong rider. Chapeau to Landis.”
Carlos Sastre, CSC's GC man, said he expected Landis to attack today:
“I saw him this morning and I thought he would attack, but he just split the peloton in thirty pieces. He went like an eagle on the first climb and against that you can't do anything.”
I find myself wishing for the occasional 125-kilometer, 3-4 monster climb individual time trial.
“It would not be fair if I told you what happens next,” joked Landis, his answer referring to the incredible litany of upsets that have highlighted this so remarkable of Tours. “But it's obvious I would like to win this race.”
Subtitled “BEST. STAGE. EVER.” and featuring some excellent pictures from Ben Ross.
July 20, 2006
Stage 17: the other competitions
No question who today's “Most competitive rider” was: Landis rides with red race numbers tomorrow.
T-Mobile's passive day may have ridden Klöden out of the Tour, but they've moved clearly into the lead of the team competition, 8:41 ahead of CSC. Turns out CSC foolishly burned its riders out getting Sastre up the road to contest the overall race win.
Landis probably sewed up the King of the Mountains for Rabobank's Michael Rasmussen today. Flying Floyd took max points over most of the day's climbs, including double points on Joux-Plane, and moved up into 2nd in the competition. There are very few points left to contest.
Similarly, McEwen has pretty much sewed up the green jersey, leading by 45 points with 2 flattish road stages to go.
That leaves yellow, and it's hard to see any other way to cut it than that Floyd Landis is again the favorite to win the Tour de France on Sunday. He's certainly a 30-second better time trial rider than Pereiro, 18 seconds better than Sastre, and has a 2-minute cushion on everybody else.
Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Damiano Cunego, Floyd Landis, Michael Rasmussen, Oscar Pereiro, Robbie McEwen, Stage results, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack
Epic! Landis rides their wheels off; takes Stage 17!
Floyd Landis splintered the field on the day's first climb. Phonak went to the front and pushed the pace, and then Landis attacked. The GC riders initially countered, but Landis lifted the pace and rode away, with about 130 kilometers and five climbs to go. Landis hunted down an 11-man break then time-trialed alone to the finish line, holding a punishing pace to his first career Tour stage win.
Oscar Pereiro's Caisse d'Epargne team couldn't bring the gap down, and finally, as it reached more than 9 minutes, dropped back, and CSC took over. The gap was slowly reduced until on the day's last and hardest climb, CSC's Carlos Sastre launched a withering assault on the remnants of the peloton.
It was too late to catch Landis, but Sastre hoped to stay ahead of Landis on GC, and to crack Pereiro and possibly take the race lead. Pereiro kept his head, and limited his losses enough to maintain his yellow jersey. For now.
Despite huge gaps between riders on the road, the Tour only gets closer: Pereiro now leads Sastre by 12 seconds, Landis by 30 seconds, and Klöden by 2:29. Landis is the best time trialist of the group, and Saturday's time trial looks decisive.
Landis is the 9th American to win a Tour stage: Landis, Hincapie, Armstrong, Zabriskie, Hamilton, Lemond, Hampsten, Phinney, Pierce.
1) Floyd Landis, Phonak, USA, in 5:23:36
2) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 5:42
3) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 5:58
4) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, Italy, at 6:40
5) Michael Boogerd, Rabobank, Netherlands, at 7:08
6) Frank Schleck, CSC, Luxembourg, at 7:08
7) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 7:08
8) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, Germany, at 7:08
9) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 7:08
10) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, at 7:20
1) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, in 80:08:49
2) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at :12
3) Floyd Landis, Phonak, CSC, at :30
4) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, Germany, at 2:29
5) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, at 3:08
6) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 4:14
7) Cyril Dessel, AG2R, France, at 4:24
8) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 5:45
9) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 8:16
10) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, at 12:13
Stage 17: Over Joux-Plane and down to Morzine
Landis and Sinkewitz ride alone with about 8 minutes in hand, with CSC driving the peloton. Jens Voigt and Sergei Honchar, both former yellow jerseys, are slowly closing the gap, but in about 5 kilometers, Landis and Sinkewitz will start the hardest climb of the day, the Col de Joux-Plane.
Landis takes an intermediate sprint at Verchaix to gain 6 seconds, but the peloton is closing, now 7:20 behind. It looks like the peloton is shrinking, but they're showing only head-on shots. Kessler and Voigt are really pouring it on. At this pace, the GC riders may all be alone on the Joux-Plane.
As Landis and Sinkewitz hit the Joux-Plane, it looks like Landis may have slowed, but Sinkewitz can't match the pace. Landis rides alone.
The gap is under 7 minutes, with Landis 22 kilometers to ride.
Pereiro is in the GC group, Leipheimer is at the back of the group. Boogerd is here, Hincapie is here, Klöden, Menchov, Evans, Sastre are here. Kessler leads the way, swings off, and Jens Voigt leads the peloton onto the ascent. There goes Voigt. Kessler has come back to the front and the pace just drops as the intense climb begins.
Chris Horner off the back, Leipheimer in trouble, Hincapie off the back. Frank Schleck leads Sasstre, Boogerd just behind, and Pereiro falling off their pace. T-Mobile is falling back; they've got nobody reacting.
Sastre rides away from Schleck. Pereiro sits in with Klöden as Sastre goes up the road. Menchov sits on Rasmussen's wheel, about 6 spots behind Klöden.
Cadel Evans and Christophe Moreau got ahead of the T-Mobile riders, and ride between Sastre and Klöden. Lampre has a rider trying to get up to Evans and Moreau, probably Cunego.
Fothen rides with Pereiro, Klöden, Rasmussen, and Menchov.
Menchov and Boogerd are away, catching Cunego and Schleck, chasing Evans, with Moreau a few seconds ahead. Rasmussen sits beside Pereiro in the yellow jersey. Zubeldia is in with him, as is Klöden.
Landis still has around 6 minutes on Pereiro. Fothen is at the back of the Klöden/Rogers/Pereiro group, with Dessel and Zubeldia just ahead. Eddy Mazzoleni is also there with Klöden.
Sastre has about a minute on Pereiro. Fothen is popped, with Cunego up the road. Cunego has a great chance to take the white jersey.
Landis leads Sinkewitz, then Sastre, then Moreau, then a group of Boogerd, Menchov, Cunego, Schleck and Evans, then Pereiro with Rasmussen, Klöden, Guerini.
Sastre catches Sinkewitz, and goes by into 2nd on the stage.
Pereiro has lifted the pace, he's caught up to Valjavec and Zubeldia. Rasmussen rides up with him. T-Mobile is strung out a few seconds behind.
Klöden is dropped, he's chasing Cyril Dessel, just behind Zubeldia, who is just behind Rasmussen, riding with Pereiro.
Cunego launches an attack, bridges across to Moreau, and passes him. Cunego is 3rd on the road now, riding into the white jersey. Moreau still rides alone in 4th.
A group is crystallizing around Pereiro: He leads Zubeldia, Rasmussen, Zubeldia, Klöden, Dessel, and Valjavec; Dessel and Valjavec are dropped. Klöden is in real trouble trying to hand onto Pereiro's group.
Landis leads Sastre by 5:30, with the yellow jersey at 7:05; Landis nears the summit of the Joux-Plane.
Moreau has Cunego in sight.
Sinkewitz has come back to Klöden and is helping him hold onto Zubeldia, Rasmussen, and Pereiro, who sets pace. Menchov and Boogerd ride together just ahead. Moreau has recaptured Cunego.
Pereiro has caught Menchov and Boogerd. Rasmussen takes over escort duties for Menchov. Evans is still a little in front of Pereiro, who's battling to save his jersey.
Landis is at the top of Joux-Plane. Sastre is about a kilometer behind. Moreau has dropped Cunego less than a minute behind Sastre. Pereiro has reeled in Cadel Evans, and dropped Denis Menchov. Sinkewitz sits on Pereiro, Klöden next, then Evans and Zubeldia.
Sastre crosses at 5:07; Moreau at 5:58. Cunego around 6:19, then Boogerd and Schleck lead Pereiro, Zubeldia and Klöden at 6:52.
Landis has 5 kilometers to ride, dropping fast. He's going to finally get his first Tour stage win. Michael Rogers has finally reached the top of Joux-Plane.
Landis needs to keep the motors going right to the line; it's going to be very close, plus he's earned some bonus time, as will Sastre. He's got 1 kilometer to ride, and he comes out of the saddle, sprinting for the line. Call me a girly-man, but I'm in tears watching this. Pumps his fist, and Floyd Landis has his first career Tour stage win!
Sastre isn't descending as smoothly as Landis. Cyril Dessel has fallen off the outside of a left-hander on the descent; he jumps back on as fast as he can. Sastre has 1 kilometer to ride; he's got a shot at being the 9th leader of this Tour. Here he comes; he's in at about 5:41; he'll have about 20 seconds on Landis. Moreau is 3rd, at 5:58.
Cunego at about 6:40; here comes Pereiro, who's also sprinting to the line; Boogerd, Schleck, Pereiro and Klöden come in together at about 7:08.
Pereiro will hold the race leadership, but just barely. The TT may decide this one, or they may be battling for time bonuses all the way to Paris; it's going to be very close.
Cracks of Legend
My legendary "crack" at the Tour of Willamette (at least legendary to me), where I got dropped on the first climb, rode by myself, got caught and dropped by the Women's field, 4s field, and Masters, and then rode through a dead cow carcass, and nearly lost it on a washed out road is burned into my mind. I'm not the best tour historian, but remember that Lance cracked on two stages, Jan cracked under pressure from everyone, Merckx could barely pedal one stage, there was Miguel Indurain's famous cracking, and I'll never forget Lemond pulling out of his last tour.
What memorable cracks have you had or remember from tour's pasts? My wife always wondered what it was like until she could barely get home one cold, wet day.
Stage 17 on the road
OLN is going to regret starting their broadcast at 7:30 today.
An early 11-man breakaway featuring T-Mobile's Patrik Sinkewitz got about 11 minutes on the field, and on the day's first climb, the Col des Saissies, 6 Phonaks came to the front of the field, and started grinding the advantage of that break down, dropping Simoni, Sandy Casar, Thomas Voeckler, and David Moncoutié, and closing it down to 9:30.
With only Victor Hugo Peña, Koos Moerenhout, and Landis left for Phonak at the head of the pack, Landis attacked super strongly, and cracked Pereiro. Only T-Mobile's Andreas Klöden and Michael Rogers, Davitamon-Lotto's Cadel Evans, CSC's Carlos Sastre and Rabobank's Denis Menchov could hold on.
Menchov was next to crack, and then Landis soloed off the front. Rogers attempted to bridge up, but nobody was going to catch Landis. He's riding alone in pursuit of the early breakaway, while the yellow jersey rides 2:38 behind, alongside the other GC contenders in a group of 45, with 3 Caisse d'Epargne teammates.
Phonak, which was the last team with 9 riders, has seen Martin Perdiguero abandon after setting pace for Landis early. Juan Miguel Mercado, leading the Agritubel team, has also abandoned, and QuickStep's José Rujano, who finished last on yesterday's stage, didn't start today's stage. José Gomez Marchante has also abandoned.
Landis is over the top of the day's 1st climb. He's got 118 kilometers (about 70 miles) to go. Credit Agricole's Patrice Halgand was 1st over the climb, ahead of 6 other survivors of the break. Landis was 3:10 behind the break, and 3:25 ahead of the yellow jersey.
The breakaway has come back together, with 11 riders: Discovery's Padrnos, CSC's O'Grady, T-Mobile's Sinkewitz, Credit Agricole's Halgand and Le Mevel, Liquigas's Paolini, Lampre's Righi, Cofidis's Auge, QuickStep's Tankink and Garate, and Française des Jeux's Gilbert.
Halgand has attacked off the breakaway.
Now Landis comes up to the breakaway. The breakaway's pace rises, and Le Mevel, Paolini, Auge, Tankink, and Gilbert are falling off the pace.
Sinkewitz and Garate are at the front of the survivors; only Righi, Padrnos, Sinkewitz, Garate, Landis, O'Grady, and Landis are chasing Halgand now.
Klöden, Menchov, Leipheimer, and Rogers ride near the back of the yellow jersey group, led by 3-4 Caisse d'Epargne riders.
Garate has fallen off Landis' group. Now Padrnos drops off the back. Landis is doing all the work, with Sinkewitz on his wheel.
Halgand is 1:45 up the road. The yellow jersey group is roughly keeping pace; they're 5:10 behind Halgand, and 3:25 behind Landis.
Halgand is over the Col des Aravis. There comes Landis, 1:14 back, with Sinkewitz, Righi and Stuart O'Grady. The surviving peloton, with David Arroyo leading Pereiro at the front, picks up Paolini near the summit, and goes over the top at 5:44 to Halgand, or 4:30 to Landis.
As Landis approaches Halgand low on the Col de la Colombiere, his group drops Padrnos and O'Grady, so there are 4 riders leading the race: Landis, Sinkewitz, Righi, and Halgand. Now Righi is dropped.
Landis has 5:21 on Pereiro's group! Landis switches bikes off the team car. Reportedly a broken rear spoke.
The gap is still going out as Landis nears the top of the Col de la Colombiere; it's 6:01 with 72 kilometers (43 miles) to ride. Landis is still doing all the work for the break, spinning comfortably, while Halgand is standing out of the saddle.
There goes Halgand; he's popped.
We're seeing a replay of Stage 13: Caisse d'Epargne is doing the pacemaking in the peloton, but they're not driving the gap down, and they can't get T-Mobile, CSC or Rabobank to help out. Just as Phonak did on Stage 13, Caisse d'Epargne is choosing not to kill themselves chasing Kid Rock.
Honchar is off the back of the peloton.
Landis comes over the top of the Col de Colombiere; 66 kilometers to ride; Sinkewitz is with him. They face a long descent and valley, a 3rd-Category climb, a plateau, then the almost 12 k ascent of the Col de Joux-Plane, which many think is the hardest climb of this Tour. There's then a 12-kilometer drop in to Morzine and the stage finish.
Halgand at about 1:00 behind.
De la Fuente jumps out for King of the Mountains points, ahead of the field at 8:25 back, and it's 8:33 to Pereiro! Landis is yellow jersey on the road. He'll recover some on the descent.
The gap goes out to 9:05, and Caisse d'Epargne surrenders: They've pulled their riders off the chase. CSC has sent Jens Voigt to the front, and is driving the pace higher in the peloton.
The peloton keeps pulling back remnants of the early break, and now catches Padrnos and Righi. The gap has fallen to 8:47.
There are riders falling out of the peloton again, as Landis and Sinkewitz cross over the top of the 3rd Category Cote de Chatillon; T-Mobile has sent Honchar to help set pace. Halgand hits the top at 4:49. Stuart O'Grady is recaptured as the peloton approaches the summit; CSC leads across at around 8:03.
Switching to a final climb post...Gonna be an amazing finish, no matter what.
"L'Alpe d'Huez will kill you"
I know I already posted about l'Etape du Tour, the amateur ride that traces one stage o the Tour, this year Stage 15 up l'Alpe d'Huez. Normally, I would just paste this on to the bottom of that story, but I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to spotlight it separately.
It's by Andrew Tilin, who sets off on l'Etape with friend Peter, “a high-level amateur racer.” If you want to find out what this ride is like for someone who rides about as much, maybe a little more, than you do, here's your chance. The author has experience in marathons and long triathlons, but says nothing has left him as “stuporous” as the climb up l'Alpe d'Huez.
July 19, 2006
They've all cracked
It was a tense morning, really tense. I planned on watching as much of the stage as possible before leaving for a meeting and right when I needed to leave, Landis cracked! I watched, noted how slow he was pedaling, the sweat pouring off his brow, and knew he was done. A minute more to watch and how much time he'd lose and then I had to leave. For the next 5 hours, I was fretting about it, trying to reach my cycling buddies others and then finally heard he'd dropped to 11th, losing more than 8 minutes.
I've been there, anyone who races has bonked and hard -- sometimes it's sudden and other times, as Landis said, "sometimes you don't feel well." You could see it coming, Paul and Phil noted it, and he kept drifting back. While he tried to hide it to his competitors, he didn't afterwards. I remember Lance cracked when Pantani avenged the "gift" stage and he also dehydrated during a TT. It happens and you hope not on a day like today.
Stage 16 wrap-up: Landis says “I don't expect to win this Tour”
After finishing 10:04 off the pace of stage winner Michael Rasmussen, everyone wanted to know if Landis had bonked, or if his osteonecrotic hip was to blame, but Landis was more philosophical: “Today was not a good day to have a bad day. What can I say?”
Landis insists he didn't bonk, but that he just hadn't recovered from yesterday's climb to Alpe d'Huez:
“I don't think it was a problem of not eating enough. I just wasn't good from the beginning.... A lot of times I feel that way and I come around at the end. There was never a flat part for 15 minutes where I could recover. I think I would have been better off, but that's how it goes.”
Landis admitted he won't win the overall title in Paris:
“I don't expect to win this Tour anymore,” he said. “It's never easy to get back eight minutes but I'll keep fighting till the end and try.”
Handicapping the rest of the field, Landis says:
“It looks to me like [Andreas] Kloden has a very good chance and [Carlos] Sastre looked strong today, but it will be very difficult for him to get more time tomorrow. It’s not as difficult as today. Pereiro also was quite good today, so I imagine it will come down to the time trial as the time gaps are not so big.”
Pereiro says his joy in taking the yellow jersey is reduced by his regard for Landis:
“Of course I’m happy to now be in the yellow jersey, but I wanted to fight with him for that yellow jersey,” Pereiro said. “He’s really a great friend of mine and I’m really sad for what happened to him.”
Meanwhile, CSC director Bjarne Riis says they'll attack again tomorrow on the last day in the Alps. CSC's Carlos Sastre, 2nd overall just 1:50 back, thinks this Tour is “too much of a good opportunity” not to attack.
What might have been
While people complain about Phonak's team, I realized there are not just one, but two former Phonak riders leading Landis in the overall standings.
Oscar Pereiro, leading Caisse d'Epargne and the Tour after Alejandro Valverde's crash, is the obvious one, but Cyril Dessel, the AG2R who briefly wore yellow and has scrapped to keep a high placing (currently 4th), was Phonak's Tour alternate rider in 2004, and joined AG2R last year.
Update: CyclingNews had the same thought, and notes that Tadej Valjavec, who was in Rasmussen's early break, also rode for Phonak last year.
Rasmussen takes Stage 16; disaster for Landis
Rabobank's monster climber Michael Rasmussen went on a day-long breakaway, reminiscent of his Stage 9 breakaway last year. He led the field over four climbs, to take a commanding lead in the King of the Mountains competition, which he won last year.
Yellow jersey Floyd Landis had a nightmare day, when he couldn't match an attack by Carlos Sastre on the day's last climb, and just went backward out of the race lead. Meanwhile, Oscar Pereiro dropped Denis Menchov and Cyril Dessel, finishing with Andreas Klöden and Cadel Evans to retake the overall race lead.
Landis was initially helped out when T-Mobile chased down their own Michael Rogers, covering a break by Denis Menchov, Cadel Evans, and Oscar Pereiro, where Landis just sat in. But when Sastre launched, the pace rose, and Landis just vanished. He eventually recovered some energy, but was paced to the line by Axel Merckx 10:04 behind Rasmussen, and more than 8 minutes behind Pereiro.
July 19th is a very happy day in the Pereiro household; last year, he won Stage 16 on July 19th, and this year, he takes back the yellow jersey.
1) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 5:36:04
2) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 1:41
3) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at 1:54
4) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, at 1:56
5) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, Germany, at 1:56
6) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 2:37
7) Pietro Caucchioli, Credit Agricole, Italy, at 2:37
8) Cyril Dessel, AG2R, France, at 2:37
9) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, USA, at 3:24
10) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 3:42
11) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 3:42
12) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, at 3:42
23) Floyd Landis, Phonak, USA, at 10:04
1) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, in 74:38:05
2) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 1:50
3) Andreas Klöden, T-Mobile, Germany, at 2:29
4) Cyril Dessel, AG2R, France, at 2:43
5) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, Australia, at 2:56
6) Denis Menchov, Rabobank, Russia, at 3:58
7) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, Australia, at 6:47
8) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 7:03
9) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, USA, at 7:46
10) Haimar Zubeldia, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 8:06
11) Floyd Landis, Phonak, USA, at 8:08
Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2006 in Andreas Klöden, Cadel Evans, Christophe Moreau, Denis Menchov, Floyd Landis, Michael Rasmussen, Oscar Pereiro, Stage results, Top Stories, Tour de France 2006 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack
Stage 16: The Battle of La Toussuire
With 27 kilometers to ride, Rabobank's Michael Rasmussen leads all riders, 4:40 ahead of Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer and Lampre's Tadej Valjavec, and 7:21 ahead of a very dangerous group that includes Floyd Landis and all his rivals.
Valjavec has gapped Leipheimer on the descent by a few seconds. Landis sits 4th wheel on the descent, while Matthias Kessler is having a hard time hanging on the back of the descending yellow jersey group.
Leipheimer has gone through the banner for 25 kilometers to ride. Maybe 3 minutes later, Rasmussen is through 20 kilometers to ride.
Kessler has lost sight of the leaders' group. Leipheimer catches Valjavec, and Rasmussen is back on the rise, as he starts up the 18-kilometer climb to the finish line atop La Toussuire.
Leipheimer won here during his Dauphiné Libéré win in June. I don't think he'll catch Rasmussen, though.
Moreau, Goubert, and Calzati are dropped with Sylvain Calzati as the yellow jersey group hits the climb. Merckx leads the group, with Landis sitting just behind. Boogerd sits next to Merckx.
Moreau has caught back on. Now Leipheimer attacks, dropping Valjavec. He's got 2:00 on the Landis group.
Kessler chased back on, but he's done; pulls to the side, and he's off the back. Schleck has come to the front, and sets pace as Merckx falls to the back. Fothen is also sitting on the back, with Cunego comfortably in the group. Merckx is gone, Patxi Vila is gone.
Rogers has gone to the front, with Boogerd, then Landis on his wheel. Cyril Dessel (!) is still in this group, while Christophe Moreau has struggled.
Leipheimer is 4:00 behind Rasmussen, as T-Mobile's Guerini falls off the leaders group.
There goes Menchov hard, with Rogers and Oscar Pereiro. Evans and Azevedo attack. Landis doesn't counter; he's marking Klöden.
Menchov, Rogers, Pereiro and Evans ride, just up the road from Klöden. Azevedo falls back into the Landis group, and once again T-Mobile is attacking their own rider. Boogerd is off the back; T-Mobile is going to destroy this break. Mazzoleni has towed Klöden and Landis back to Menchov, Rogers, Evans, and Pereiro.
Cunego sits at the back of the select group now.
That attack has put some time into Rasmussen; he's only 5:42 up the road now.
There goes Sastre; he's 2:17 back in the GC. Landis is cracked. He's off the back! There's 10 kilometers to ride; he's back with Azevedo, and he can't match Sastre's attack.
Landis is just dead. He's got to find somebody to work with. Zubeldia is off the back. Sastre is riding hard. Boogerd has passed Landis, who can't match him. They're running the team cars past Landis, who's suffering mightily at the back.
Sastre's already got 55 seconds on Landis; and 30 seconds on Kloden's group.
With about 7 kilometers to ride (4.5 miles) Leipheimer is 3:33 behind Rasmussen, with Sastre only 20 seconds behind Levi. Landis is only passing under the 10 kilometer banner. Marcus Fothen passes, along with Frank Schleck, and Landis can't get on their wheel.
Sastre catches Leipheimer. Leipheimer sits in, and there's a chance that this pair could catch Rasmussen. Not anymore: Sastre drops Leipheimer, while Rasmussen is starting to look like he's hurting with less than 5 kilometers to ride.
Rogers has dropped back to the rear of Klöden's group, where Cadel Evans, Denis Menchov, Oscar Pereiro, Cyril Dessel, and Michael Rogers are still sitting behind Eddy Mazzoleni.
Landis now looks like he's found another gear; he's turning the pedals again, but he's going to lose a lot of time today.
Menchov raises the pace, and Mazzoleni and Rogers are gone. The Pereiro/Klöden/Menchov group overtakes Leipheimer. Moreau and Caucchioli are gone, and Menchov is off the back. Dessel is gone, leaving only Klöden, Pereiro, and Evans at the front.
Rasmussen has 3 k to ride. Sastre is 2:36 behind. Pereiro has gone to the front, with Klöden sitting in, and Cadel Evans trying to hang on the back.
Moreau, Dessel, Caucchioli, Leipheimer and Menchov have formed a chase group. First Menchov, and now Leipheimer have been dropped. They'll ride alone to the finish.
At 5k to ride, Landis is 9:23 back of Rasmussen. Rasmussen passes under the flamme rouge, and his epic stage-long breakaway will pay off; he'll take the stage, and a commanding lead in the King of the Mountains competition. Sastre is within sight of Klöden, Pereiro and Evans, maybe 30 seconds up the road.
There's the finish line, and Rasmussen is almost in tears. He throws out his arms, and he's won the hardest day of the 2006 Tour.
Sastre is 2nd, at about 1:42. Pereiro is sprinting away from Evans and Klöden for 3rd through 5th. Pereiro moves back into the yellow jersey. Here comes Cyril Dessel at 2:37, alongside Christophe Moreau and Pietro Caucchioli. Leipheimer is 9th at about 3:23. Zubeldia leads Menchov around 3:47, with 2 others. Cunego comes in at 4:21; he's gained time on Fothen for the white jersey.
Merckx has gotten back up to Landis and is pacing him in.
Azevedo comes in at about 7:54. Here's Fothen with Schleck at about 8:36. Still awaiting Landis at the finish.
There's 10 minutes; he's through at about 10:03. It's a disaster for Landis, who will fall to about 8 minutes behind yellow jersey Pereiro.
Stage 16 on the road
Today's the hardest day of the 2006 Tour. Right off the line, the riders start up the climb to the Col du Galibier, a nearly 27 mile climb to the highest point of the Tour.
Next will be the Col de la Croix-de-Fer, a 22.7 kilometer (14 mile) hors categorie climb, the Col du Mollard, a 2nd-Category climb of less than 6 kilometers (about 3.5 miles), and another uphill finish to La Toussuire, a 1st-Category climb 18.7 kilometers (11 miles) long.
Michael Rasmussen, Sandy Casar, and Tadej Valjavec lead the way early. Discovery Channel has put Popovych and Rubiera in a 14-man group, also featuring T-Mobile's Patrik Sinkewitz, Saunier Duval's Gilberto Simoni and José Gomez Marchante chasing between Floyd Landis and the rest of the peloton and Rasmussen's trio.
Sebastian Joly, the Tour's lanterne rouge or last-placed rider, has abandoned, as has Milram's Maxim Iglinski, who crashed yesterday.
The peloton is keeping a healthy pace, and current King of the Mountains David de la Fuente is dropped, along with green jersey Robbie McEwen and Phonak's Victor Hugo Peña.
Rasmussen takes the prize, and the 20 climber's points, ahead of Casar and Valjavec.
Back in the main field, Levi Leipheimer sits at the front, alongside Rabobank's Michael Boogerd, and Pietro Caucchioli has attacked off the front.
The 16-man chase group is over the top 3:02 behind Rasmussen. The main field comes through about 1:30 behind that.
Davitamon-Lotto's Christopher Brandt and Phonak's Martin Perdiguero haave crashed on the descent. They're back up and riding.
The Landis group is 5:52 behind Rasmussen, and 1:38 behind Popovych.
Both lead groups are gaining on the peloton, approaching the feed zone, with Rasmussen's group 6:20 ahead of the main field, and Popovych 4 minutes behind Rasmussen.
After the feed zone, the peloton has dropped to lunch tempo, and Phonak and Gerolsteiner are riding together with 70 meters on the field. They want to keep the pace up, and the field just wants to have lunch. Popovych is likely to gain crucial time here. Gerolsteiner wants to chase because Popovych sits just behind Levi Leipheimer in the overnight standings.
The field is working again, and gaining quickly on Popovych as they start up the Col de la Croix-de-Fer.
Sandy Casar is dropped by Rasmussen and Valjavec. If Rasmussen leads over the Crox-de-Fer, he'll take the King of the Mountains jersey.
Rubiera and Calzati attempt an attack from the chase group, but quickly are recaptured.
David Kopp of Gerolsteiner and Steven de Jongh of QuickStep have abandoned. David Moncoutié is off the back, as is Garzelli.
Popovych is recaptured and goes right to the back of the field. There are 8 survivors of the chase, and now Valjavec has lost contact with Rasmussen, about 7 minutes ahead of the Landis group.
Simoni is recaptured.
CSC has launched a team attack. They've come to the front and are riding hard with 3 riders. Leipheimer, Landis, Klöden have matched the pace. Popovych is dropped, as is Juan Mañuel Garate. CSC's Vande Velde drives the pace, ahead of Sastre and Schleck.
T-Mobile's Sinkewitz is dropped, Mercado is dropped, Egoi Martinez, George Hincapie and Chechu Rubiera are all dropped for Discovery.
Rasmussen soldiers on, 6:45 ahead. Astarloza is caught; that's the last survivor of the early chase group. T-Mobile has everyone but Sinkewitz and Honchar in the lead group. Axel Merckx, the last Landis teammate is at the back of the lead group, just behind Christian Vande Velde.
Levi Leipheimer has launched off the front of the select group. Merckx and Vande Velde have recaptured. In the lead group are:
Discovery's Azevedo, CSC's Sastre, Schleck, and Vandevelde, T-Mobile's Klöden, Guerini, Kessler, Mazzoleni, Rogers, AG2R's Moreau, Calzati, Dessel, Goubert, Gerolsteiner's Fothen, Rabobank's Menchov and Boogerd, Davitamon-Lotto's Evans and Horner, Phonak's Landis and Merckx, Lampre's Cunego, Caisse d'Epargne's Arroyo, Karpets, Pereiro, and Zandio, Credit Agricole's Caucchioli, and Euskaltel's Camano and Zubeldia
Leipheimer is more than a minute ahead of the leader's group quickly. Landis is slipping back through the select group, riding only about 8 riders from the back. Calzati leads Boogerd and Kessler at the front of that group.
Rasmussen is now 7:47 ahead of the Landis group, with Leipheimer 1:30 ahead.
Moncoutie has climbed back to the leaders and attacks off the front. Leipheimer catches Casar from the original Rasmussen trio.
Merckx is at the very back of the yellow jersey group.
Rasmussen takes max points on Croix-de-Fer, and the lead in the King of the Mountains competition. Valjavec is 4:55 back, with Leipheimer and Casar at 5:31, Moncoutie at 7:51, and the yellow jersey group at 8:24.
It's only a brief descent before the 2nd-Category Col du Mollard.
On the descent, Pereiro has gone off the front of the yellow jersey group. Fothen is falling off the back; T-Mobile has one rider up the road with Pereiro and his teammate.
Leipheimer drops Casar on the Col du Mollard, just before catching Tadej Valjavec, who grabs his wheel. Only Rasmussen is ahead of Leipheimer. In the yellow jersey group, Moncoutié is dropped, Calzati falls off, Vande Velde is gone. Landis sits near the rear of the group, with Caisse d'Epargne, T-Mobile, and CSC at the front.
Dr. Rasmussen's climbing class continues up front; he's got 5:08 on Leipheimer and 6:56 on the Landis group. He's first over the Col du Mollard.
Rasmussen overcooks one of the first turns on a descent the commentators call extremely dangerous. His rear wheel slides and he gets back on his line. Leipheimer and Valjavec crest the Mollard. Merckx is leading Landis up toward the front of the yellow jesey group, and he's now sitting 6th, after being at the back of the group for the last 20 kilometers. Casar goes over the Mollard 6:59 behind Rasmussen, and the field is at 7:22. I'm switching to a new post for the descent and the final ascent of La Toussuire.