Floyd Landis is in-friggin’-credible. Because of still getting caught up on previous recorded Tour stages earlier today, and being busy this evening (and by “today” I mean Thursday, of course), I only just now got done watching the recording of today’s Tour stage.
Holy mother of God, that was a heckuva stage.
Floyd Landis, after carb-crashing hard yesterday and losing the yellow jersey to the tune of eight minutes lag time, surged back into relevance for the general competition with a breakaway effort that started very early in the stage. He left the peloton behind and steadily gained distance on it for the next 165 kilometers! That is just mind-boggling. Bob Roll (one of the announcers) couldn’t help repeating, over and over again, that this was the single best one-stage effort in the history of the Tour. Even after watching it happen, it’s difficult to believe what actually happened. Top-flight riders were running out of steam and dropping back in a steady stream from all the group efforts to catch Landis, or at least to keep him from just running away from them like they were standing still.
The second-place rider in today’s stage was nearly six minutes back.
In two days, there’s a time trial. If you’ve been paying attention to professional cycling much, you’ll know Landis is an excellent time-trialist. The time trials and the mountain stages have been the stages that mostly decide the Tour for as long as I’ve been paying attention, and today was the last mountain stage of this year’s Tour. The immediate future looks incredibly bright for Floyd Landis.
He broke his hip in a bicycle crash about three years ago, as I recall. It has been degenerating since then, and it looks like he’ll be getting hip replacement surgery later this year. This may well be his last Tour ever, and while he’s riding he must be in excruciating pain. That doesn’t stop him from just dominating a stage today like I’ve never seen anyone dominate a mountain stage — not even Lance Armstrong. Landis just smoothly pedaled away from everyone, almost like it was nothing, and when he got off his bicycle at the end of the stage he looked like he had another fifty or sixty kilometers of hard riding in him if he needed it.