July 16, 2006
Tour Salad: Stage 13
The Tour is all about shifting on-the-road alliances, and Landis may have burned some bridges on that front on Saturday.
Bobby Julich's diary entry at ESPN.com discusses this: He thinks Phonak not making a limited effort to help Rabobank chase once the stage was won was “a bad P.R. move,” although he still picks Landis to win the overall.
Maybe Phonak's refusal to ride tempo with Rabobank results from a rumor making the rounds that Oscar Freire was more than just tired at the end of Stage 12. CyclingNews mentions it in a quick interview with Alessandro Ballan, who finished 2nd Friday when Oscar Freire sat on his wheel as Discovery's Yaroslav Popovych attacked several times and took the stage win. The rumor says Discovery and Rabobank, whose director Erik Breukink is a former teammate of Discovery director Johan Bruyneel, agreed that Freire wouldn't contest Friday's stage, and that Discovery would help Rabobank out in the Alps, where they'll be looking to put Denis Menchov in yellow and possibly Michael Rasmussen in the climber's jersey.
I'm not sure Popovych wouldn't have won that stage straight up: It reminded me of his powerful attack over Clocktower Hill in Rome at the Tour de Georgia this year.
Martin Dugard notes another team that was frustrated with Phonak's performance Saturday: Davitamon-Lotto, whose Cadel Evans suggested “I'm not sure he gave it away on purpose,” and whose Robbie McEwen was still whining over having to chase down Hushovd and Bennati when they got in a break on Friday. And Sherwen and Liggett suggested AG2R was unhappy that Phonak allowed another rider to leapfrog Christophe Moreau (and Cyril Dessel, I suppose). Not unhappy enough to come to the front and work, but, you know, unhappy.
Favorite headline on Stage 13 is probably at Daily Peloton, where Dave Shields calls Phonak's strategy “The Brilliantly Executed Fumble.”
An article in the Sunday Herald suggests Lance Armstrong, visiting the Tour tomorrow, may use whatever influence he has left in the peloton against Landis, who author Jeremy Whittle says discussed and refused an offer to return to Discovery Channel next year.
Podium Cafe looks at why Hincapie is having a rough Tour: You can, apparently, be too thin. In a story from the Gannett News Service, George's brother Rich says Hincapie arrived for the Tour down around 155 pounds, against his usual 175 (Hincapie is 6'3“ tall), and is having trouble eating enough to keep up with the Tour's demands.
Great wrap-up, thanks!
Posted by: Dave at Jul 16, 2006 12:54:49 PM
If Lance really does "go after" Floyd out of spite, he's no better than Greg LeMond, maybe even worse, if he actually tries to influence the race for that reason alone. And this is coming from a Lance fan. But also a Floyd fan, and a fan of cycling. I've been saddened and baffled by LeMond's nutty comments over the years, and never thought I'd see Lance follow in those footsteps.
Obviously, his first loyalty is to Disco, and that's fine, but as a fellow American top cyclist, he should give Floyd some love this week, or at the very least some respect. If he goes the other way, I would find that deeply disappointing. It's not that I don't think he can be a jerk sometimes, he admits as much himself, but this would really take the cake.
Posted by: Julie at Jul 17, 2006 2:11:59 AM
Sadly, I do think LA would do something that jerky.
Pretty ironic the line he used at the ESPYs about the French World Cup soccer team because I've been convinced for a couple years now that it applies equally to Lance himsel -- since his disgraceful humiliation of Filippo Simeoni 2 Tours ago on the 2nd to last day (or was it the last?). Have never been able to forget that.
Posted by: noelle at Jul 17, 2006 1:03:18 PM