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July 19, 2006

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.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 19, 2006 in Floyd Landis, Oscar Pereiro | Permalink


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Everyone is saying Floyd's yellow hopes are done, which is a shame if this is his last Tour - who knows what the hip replacement will bring? - but is there a chance that he could come back? There's still tomorrow - and there's the time trial.... 8 minutes down seems like an eternity though.

Posted by: Marianne at Jul 19, 2006 1:32:54 PM

Marianne - I don't see how Landis is going to get 8 minutes. A lot of the same tactical considerations that really were working for him (if not for the bonk) today will be working against him tomorrow.

Every team with a highly-placed GC rider - AG2R for Dessel, T-Mobile for Klöden, Davitamon-Lotto for Evans, even Euskaltel with Zubeldia in 10th - will be riding to protect their Top 10 placings. Landis will finish Top 10, might recover to take the time trial on Saturday, but there's no way the field lets him back into the overall competition.

Maybe he gets 2-3 minutes tomorrow; maybe he gets 90 seconds on Saturday, but that's pretty optimistic, and puts him up around 6th-7th. That hurt.

Posted by: Frank at Jul 19, 2006 1:42:46 PM

What might have been? Both Pereiro and Dessel got where they are now via fluky breakaway time gains. Not exactly something one can bank on.

And even last year Pereiro's top ten finish was achieved by going away in early mtn stage breakaways and sort of sag climbing - starting with an advantage over the contenders and finishing respectably but still losing big time to them on the climbs. He did go to the finish in one of those stages, the one in which Hincapie beat him, but they had a huge advantage to start the climb. All of which is to say that while Pereiro is a solid rider, he's not a traditional TdF contender. But who knows, he might win this one since the circumstances are so unique.

One who won't win is Floyd. On top of gaining back 8 minutes plus he's got to leapfrog over 10 riders to win. That combo makes it impossible. Floyd will probably win the time trial and might even come back tomorrow and put some time into people. But it won't add up to 8 minutes.

Posted by: Kurzleg at Jul 19, 2006 1:46:34 PM

I'm not saying Phonak should have banked on Dessel and Pereiro as yellow jersey contenders; I'm saying they've both ridden 2 very strong Alpine stages so far, where Phonak had minimal support for Landis.

Posted by: Frank at Jul 19, 2006 2:11:27 PM

It's likely I'm setting myself up for disappointment, but I'm going to keep the faith that Floyd can pull it out for the overall win. After a relatively predictable 7 years of Lance, I'm hoping Floyd is doing this for the dramatic effect that the French love oh-so-much. As unlikley as it is, let's all hope for an 'every millisecond counts' finish like Lemond's win over Fignon.

Posted by: chairman at Jul 19, 2006 2:21:55 PM

Thanks for the response... I was just being overly optimistic...not my strong suit... as soon as I started reading about Landis struggling - I am in San Fran and can't see the stages!!! - I thought, he's done. UGH.
It's the curse of Lance Armstrong!
FIRST, he taps George to "do something special," and what's his GC standing NOW? (worse than Landis for now : ))
SECOND, he says Landis to win, and what happened?
: )

Posted by: Marianne at Jul 19, 2006 2:31:24 PM

If Pereiro can ride tomorrow's stage like he rode today's, he can definitely win. It wasn't a flukey sort of ride. Very solid, very much the sort of ride you expect from a top GC contender. But also, very much the kind of ride that would have supported Floyd if he were still riding for Phonak. Still, there's only so far support riders will take you when you bonk. I'm afraid no one could have kept Floyd in it today.

Posted by: Chris at Jul 19, 2006 3:03:18 PM

Watching Landis today just reinforced how great a rider Lance was. Guys like Lance don't come along very often, and history indicates that some time will go by until another rider emerges to dominate the Tour. Hats off to Landis for battling through his hip pain to make a run at it, even if he's come up short. I hope he'll still be a contender after the hip surgery.

Posted by: David at Jul 19, 2006 3:48:18 PM

Floyd's fall is incomparable and, coming out to have some beer with the press and talk about it shows a ton of class.

Did he really drink beer? I didn't think one did that *during* a Tour. Yikes.

Speaking of falling from grace, I'm reading about CSC and T-Mobile (God bless 'em, they just can't help but work against each other) and all the new found good fortunes (following Operacion Puerto) and the other teams and riders making their own good fortune out of this crazy situation and...

Where on the planet is Discovery? They are hardly even at the race and Bruyneel must be going just crazy inside (especially every time he sees Riis' mile wide smile).

Posted by: Rex at Jul 19, 2006 6:55:47 PM

Those AMD commercials are particularly painful to watch with Discovery doing so poorly. Right, they're looking at their AMD PDAs to learn that they're off the back!

Posted by: DL Byron at Jul 19, 2006 7:47:36 PM