I was stunned to hear that Landis was floating around the back of the lead group in today's stage in the Alps, which turned to disbelief when Phil and Paul called out the attack and Landis fading further and further back... cracking!
Landis cracks? Wha?!
By the end of the day Floyd had lost 10 minutes to the stage winner, 8 minutes to his former rivals. I would never have envisioned this for today.
Today was a tough day for Floyd. I can't imagine how disheartening it must have been as Floyd watched his rivals ride away, while he lacked the power to even maintain contact. It must have been sheer mental and physical torture.
As I reflect tonight on the Tour, the pattern seems clearer — most of team Phonak seemed to disappear on the mountain stages, leaving Floyd either alone or with only a single teammate.
Landis allowed Pereiro to gain 30 minutes in a "controlled fumble" to take pressure of his tired team, and ends up looking at Periero, his former teammate in 1st place, while he sits in 11th. But really, if Floyd and Phonak hadn't given up the Yellow Jersey, would he have even survived yesterday's climb?
Now we are seeing just how tired out they were, including Floyd. It makes me wonder if Phonak had really been built for the mountains, as both T-Mobile and CSC seemed quite strong in comparison.
The best writing today on the Landis collapse is at Martin Dugard's blog:
Landis looked tired and hopeless, incapable of turning the pedals a single bit faster. In those moments, the yellow jersey was lifted from his back. The collective gasp that shot around this ski resort as fans watched the collapse on a jumbotron was unparalleled. It was Landis's race to lose and, more than likely, he did.
Now it will be interesting with Floyd "out of it" how he will react (if he can) tomorrow. Will he aim to just finish, or like Levi Leipheimer, attack like a wild man, even though there may seem no point? Or will he do it for pride? Chris Carmichael has some excellent points to consider about Floyd in todays post, Bad Days Happen:
Relieved of the pressure of carrying the yellow jersey, and perhaps even the expectation of being a podium contender, Floyd Landis might well be reborn tomorrow during Stage 17. He's still a strong rider who has shown himself capable of climbing away from everyone in this year's race. Given a night to eat, drink, rest, and reflect, he can recover from today's bad day and have a great ride to Morzine tomorrow.
Whatever happens, this is the most exciting, gut-wrenching, confusing, unpredictable, crazy Tour de France I've seen. Even wilder than Lance's challenging 2003 Tour — and I'm loving (nearly) every moment of it.