Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tour de France; Stage 16 report

What else can you say, especially if you are an American rooting for the US riders except today was a really bad day.

Floyd Landis had the single worst meltdown of this Tour and certainly one of the most incredible bad days for a rider in the yellow jersey in many, many years. After retaking the yellow yesterday, Floyd loses an incredible 10 minutes and 4 seconds in the closing kilometers of the stage today. What once looked like a done deal for Floyd is now a near impossibility. The image of Floyd nearly going in reverse on the final moments of the stage is one of the more enduring images of pain and suffering in recent years. The tank was simply empty. For those of us who wanted to see him pull off the win, today was a bad day. Having ridden with the man, I have to say that it was a serious heartbreaker.

George Hincapie fell even further down in the standings today, dropping slightly more than 28 minutes to the winner. George now sits in 42nd place, a distant 53 minutes down. Levi Leipheimer managed to minimize his losses and finished a very respectable 9th and moved up to the same spot on the GC. His hopes of a top ten finish are looking stronger.

Oscar Pereiro, a man very few people considered a threat to win the Tour when he took over the yellow a few days ago before losing it to Floyd, now sits in yellow again and has a very real chance to stay on the podium. This crazy Tour is far from over, based on what we have seen so far, so the final outcome is far from certain. Cadel Evans has risen back up to 5th after finishing 4th today.

It seems safe to say, well who knows, that Andreas Kloden is now suddenly a very real candidate to win the race. He has shown he can climb and is not that bad a time trial rider. He could really make it happen. He was 2nd in the race in 2004, so he is no stranger to the pressure of contending. With T-Mobile still reeling from the expulsion of Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla in the drug scandal, they are likely going to throw everything they have into supporting Kloden and trying to get him into yellow by Paris.

Tomorrow will be less painful, hopefully, but it could still play a big roll in the final outcome. I would make some prognostications, but it seems totally futile in light of today. Somebody will win tomorrow. They'll be happy. That's all I know...

The Cub Reporter will likely have a post for us soon. I hear through the Grapevine that it was a fairly solemn day in France for the US folks. Dang. Sorry Reva and Donna... our boy had a bad, BAD day.

Tim

9 comments:

Donna Tocci said...

So, so sad.....poor Floyd...
Looks like he's going to have to kick some serious butt in rehab and come back next year to win the thing. WHAT a story that would be...
Congrats to all who did finish that mountain stage yesterday. Heck, congrats to all who finish le Tour. It's a huge accomplishment in and of itself.

Bernie said...

Woof. That was tough to watch.

It was nice to see Levi on the attack though. He didn't end up taking back as much time as he'd hoped, but it had to be good for his confidence to be able to get up the road alone.

James said...

Yeah it is sad for Floyd, but wow, this has shaped up to be a really great race. For some reason, it reminds me of the years that Pedro Delgado and Stephen Roche won. I liked Lance as much as anyone and enjoyed watching him win for 7 years, but between the reigns of Armstrong and Indurain, there have only been a handful of wide-open tours without a clear favorite in the last 15 years. I have been pulling for all of the US riders this year including Floyd, but it is pretty exciting to watch a tour without a heavy favorite dominating the race. I also think that Kloden and T mobile are likely to win at this point, but I just don’t know. That is what is so great; I love the suspense each day.

Donna Tocci said...

James - add today to your 'suspense' every day. Cubbie is texing me like a mad woman and right now, if they ended on the road where they are, Floyd would be back in yellow. Long way to go yet and, as we saw yesterday, anything can happen, but man this guy isn't taking that bad day laying down. Holy Moly! Rock on Floyd!

Cubbie just texted again...she's sitting with Mrs. Landis, Robbie Ventura and another coach of Floyd's. Think there is high energy in that room???

Rock on Floyd! Rock on! Allez! Allez! Allez!

Reva said...

But now it is all within reach again!!!!

Unbelieveable!!!

James said...

I definitly spoke a bit too soon in writing Floyd off. His race today was just as unbelievable as his implosion yesterday. Stage 17 was truly incredible and not at all what I expected. Have I mentioned yet that I love this tour?

Just 30 seconds to make up now. Way to go Floyd.

Bernie said...

Wowie wow wow. I was just talking with my buddy Paul, and we talked about how other greats had bad days in the past, and then gone out the next day on crazy attacks just to prove they were strong.

(Think Pantani blowing up the tour the day after being dropped by Lance)

I have to admit, when I saw Floyd on the early attack today, I thought that's what was happening. NEVER expected him to stay away.

If he wins, I'll be elated... because this is seriously the best American perfomance ever. To come back from virtual elimination on GC is amazing. Sure, maybe Lance was more dominant... LeMond more stylish in te Time Trials... but nobody I can remember has ever won with a gutsy performance like this (that goes for non-Americans, too).

Sascha said...

Annie and I were freaking the entire time we were watching last night. It was amazing! Astounding! I love Floyd Landis. What he did was nearly heroic. The best part is, no one on that tour could even hate him if he won because he did it with style, courage and PANACHE!

Super Rookie said...

I guess we shouldn't talk about "bad" anymore...