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July 20, 2006

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.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2006 | Permalink


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Whatever happens, this is the gutsiest TdF stage I've ever followed via internet. Landis is my new hero.

Posted by: Dave at Jul 20, 2006 10:54:57 AM

I'd just like to say thanks for all the TDF coverage you provide. I have to be at work and can't get to any sports sites, your coverage has been amazing good ride for Landis today.

Posted by: Troy at Jul 20, 2006 11:18:41 AM

Unbelieveable!! I cannot wait to get home tonight to watch this. Sounds like a ride that will place Landis in tour lore for years to come. As amazing as Lance's exploits were, people just simply don't like him (and I like him just fine). His iron-fisted, arguably boring grasp of the Tour never produced heroics like this...at least IMHO...way to go Floyd. I would have to guess that even the French will be endeared to him after this heroic ride. Now, we have to hope for a complete recovery from the little surgery he faces.

Posted by: Johny at Jul 20, 2006 11:22:14 AM

Ok, so.... maybe I wasn't so overly optimistic yesterday???!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Can Floyd win the time trial too???

OH MY OH MY!!!!!

I am in tears nearly!!!!!!!!

I have goosebumps definitely!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Marianne at Jul 20, 2006 11:25:57 AM

Not a girly-man Frank. My eyes were quite misty as well.

Posted by: Eric at Jul 20, 2006 11:33:23 AM

Incredible! I don't care if he takes first in this tour. He is the winner of the tour regardless. I'm in shock.

Posted by: davey at Jul 20, 2006 11:33:43 AM

Thanks again for the *awesome* line-by-line coverage...just amazing...I've got serious goosebumps here as I type this...

Unfortunately, I had to leave for work before the Joux-Plane (can't wait to see the footage tonight!), but I thought of a couple things during my commute this morning.

(1) Loved the Phonak tactics today...absolutely killer. I wish OLN could replay the ENTIRE race today, though.

(2) Watching the way Floyd wave for the H2O on the Col de la Colombiere...continuously hydrating, dousing...you know, there is no better super-domestique than a team car! Unlimited supplies, don't have to wait for guys with stuffed jersey pockets to cycle down and back through the peleton...contunuous 5-star support up the climbs. Such an advantage.

Now...any preditions for tomorrow's "Patron Debate o' the Day"? Not to get ahead of ourselves (Floyd's 30 seconds back on GC!) but...should Floyd do what he's supposed to on Sat and win the TT and take the overall...well, I cannot help but think: 1989 vs 2006? Which comeback is more impressive?

Posted by: asg at Jul 20, 2006 11:40:55 AM

Oh. My. God. Go Floyd!!!

Posted by: Erik Tjernlund at Jul 20, 2006 11:48:17 AM

Thanks for the great coverage.

Like others - your site allows me to sneak TDF updates from "under the radar" of the internet police at my company. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

In stage 7 ITT - Landis had 1:10 on Sastre and 1:40 on Pereiro. Tomorrow should be nearly as exciting of a race as today! After yesterday's bonk, I gave up on keeping the maillot jaune in USA hands. Now Landis proves that he deserves to take the jersey home.

Way to go Floyd!

Posted by: jeremy at Jul 20, 2006 11:55:42 AM

Holy cow - what a legendary stage victory by the World's Fastest Mennonite. For once I'm glad for my noisy early-rising upstairs neighbor (U.S. West coast here), because he woke me in time to catch the last hour of the live coverage of this stunning stage - I had to run out the door to catch the the bus to work just as Floyd passed under the 2km banner, but I'll look forward to watching him cross the line on the replay tonight. What a couple of stages we've been privileged to see yesterday and today!

"You want panache, motherf***ers? I'll give you panache..."

Whatever happens in the final flat stages and ITT, Floyd just wrote himself a big page in the book of Tour legend. That was simply awesome - no one who watched it will ever forget it, I'll wager.

p.s.: Thanks again for the great blog, Frank - you and my man Locutus of dailypeloton.com are my favorite 2 Tour bloggers.

Posted by: ewmayer at Jul 20, 2006 12:45:29 PM