So it's Floyd Landis' Tour de France to win or lose tomorrow after a damn near unbelieveable week in the Alps.
He won the yellow jersey back on Tuesday after giving it up the week prior. Wednesday he bonked hard on the last climb and fell 8 minutes behind, and basically was completely out of it. Yesterday he went on a complete and total kamikaze suicide mission of a breakaway over 100 miles from the finish... by himself. The peleton let him go because he was 8 minutes behind, and there was no way that a solo breakaway could last that long. Except it did. Amazingly, he got damn near all the time back yesterday that he lost on Wednesday in what is being hailed as the single greatest single day ride in the past 30 years of the Tour. It's the most remarkable one that I have ever seen (I have been watching since the late 80s).
Putting 8 min. into the peleton on a 100+ mile solo breakaway = badass.
Anyhow, tomorrow is the penultimate stage, a long individual time trial. Landis is in 3rd place, 30 seconds behind overall leader Oscar Pereira (Carlos Sastre is in 2nd 12 seconds behind Pereira). Landis is flat out better at time trials that any of his other rivals, so he should end the day with a couple minute advantage, which would be damn near unbeatable on the final day's cruise into Paris - no Tour has been decided on the final day since 1989, when Greg Lemond overcame a 56 second defecit when the last stage that year was itself a time trial. But should is the key word; this tour has been one completely unexpected adventure after another. Whatever happens, tomorrow should decide the whole thing.
Pretty amazing that the top 3 riders are seperated by only :30 after over 84 hours of riding. If Landis pulls it off then his ride Thursday will go down in the all time annals of the Tour. If he doesn't, then it will be kind of like Joe Tereshinski's amazing TD catch against Florida last year - heroic, but not nearly what it would have been if Georgia had won the game.
Here's hoping he does it; that would probably be the best story for American, and maybe even world, cycling. For those not in the know, Landis had a bad crash in 2003 and as a result his hip had degenerated to the point where he is having hip replacement surgery immediately after the tour this year. If he were to win and then have the surgery, the soap opera of his rehab and if he is able to compete at the highest levels or in the tour in the next year or two would be up there with Lance's comeback from cancer in terms of generating interest from common sports fans.
Hopefully he can do it tomorrow.
Allez le moustache de Floyd!