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« Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingstone | Main | Floyd Attacks! »

Floyd Landis: Tour de France Champion

Today was the day, Floyd rolled into Paris and claimed his rightful place as the Tour de France champion for 2006.

I've been reflecting on the tour, and Floyd's comeback, trying to capture a sense of a feeling for the past 3 weeks.

Amazing is the one word answer to that reflection.

To me, it is indeed amazing that Floyd could lead, crack, then attack and win back the Tour within 4 days time. Amazing that he could come back from his monumental cracking on Alpine stage 2 and drive so hard that nobody could stay with him in the very next stage.

I think the fact that Landis' chances of winning an attack on Stage 17 were so utterly impossible was part of why his audacious move worked. Once ideas were planted in the heads of other riders, like "nobody can overcome 8 minutes" or "he can't stay away long enough before he's caught" the chance of Floyd doing just those things could work.

The impossible seems to have worked in two ways from my perspective: first, the peleton was lulled into believing that Floyd's attack was full of folly, doomed and impossible. But secondly, these thoughts by his peers likely gave Floyd the drive to prove them wrong and that he could do the impossible. A dangerous combo, once you see Floyd's history of pulling off the impossible. Today, I also found myself utterly pleased for Floyd.

This year's Tour was indeed wild, unpredictable and emotionally challenging, but I've come to see how wonderful this is. After 7 years of Lance predictability, a Tour where anything can and seemed to happen, has made cycling exciting again.

Along with this, I will miss the daily flow of events from Europe: Phil and Paul on OLN, stats from the Daily Peleton and daily fixes of Martin Dugard's excellent road trip Tour blog. I do hope some of these wonderful resources will return in 2007.

Fellow Tour fans, thanks for the comments and emails. I hope you enjoyed this wild Tour as much as I have and are pleased at Floyd's improbable win. I'm so very happy for him and wish him the best as he heads toward hip surgery and recovery for 2007.

Until 2007, au revoir, Tour de France!

Photo: AFP

Updates: After some contemplation shortly after the original posting, I felt my comparison between Landis and Armstrong seemed a unfair to Lance. I still admire both Floyd Landis and Lance Amrstrong — what I realize is that knowing neither man personally I've decieded to step back a bit — each man is different while in some ways the same.

Also: shortly after winning the Tour this year, Floyd Landis has been accused of having an abnormally high testosterone level. At this point we're awaiting results of a B sample from Floyd, and there are some questions about the change in ratios from 6:1 to 4:1, connections between the Tour organization and L'Equipe and other confusing details. So now we wait for the results and Landis' defense.

"Dick Pound's recent defamatory and absurd public comments - in the midst of a process where the highest ethical standards should support a fair and just outcome - highlight the dramatic and systematic problems with global anti-doping enforcement and adjudication,"

"Absolute testosterone levels are not even part of the allegations. The LNDD (Laboratoire National Depistage de Dopage - the French lab that tested Landis's sample) tested a clearly contaminated sample of my urine, against WADA rules, and even then my testosterone levels fell into the normal to low range."

Link: Landis hits back at Pound

Related Links:
Official Floyd Landis Blog
The Floyd Fairness Fund
Floyd Landis' Defense Documents
Free Floyd Landis Website

Reader Comments (8)

When Hincapie disappeared, I very wrongly thought my interest in watching the daily coverage would fade. It was an amazing Tour that kept me watching.

I jumped from watching a lot of European soccer (the English, Spanish, and Italian leagues) to the World Cup to OLN's coverage of the Tour de France. I'll soon be going into withdrawal now that each has ended.
July 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJAbbott
eh, i think lance is also a regular guy ... he puts in / put in an amazing amount of time and effort into his training.

of course, most regular guys would have bailed on all that training and crazy schedules ....:)
July 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterender
Floyd ? A drug addict. Like Lance.

Armstrong has made lots of efforts to win 7 Tour de France. But with all the efforts of the world, you can't win against dopping-men like Ulrich, Basso, Beloki, Heras, ...And Lance won easily...

More, all the years of Lance's reign, in mountain stages, he had 5 or 6 teamates within the 10 or 15 last guys ahead of the race (remember the victory of Hincapie (!!!) last year in the hardest stage of the Pyren�es).And this year, the same guys can't pass the mountain within the 50 first runners...

The last american champion who hasn't been a shame for the cyclism and has been respectful with the cyclism fans is Greg Lemond.Just before Indurain and the reign of the drug addicts.

I don't know how can I still like this sport so much.

July 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTom
I am not sure how we can expect a human body to take this kind of hammering for 21 odd days without some sort of artificial stimulation. If you look at the average speed these guys do day in and day out, for the duration of the tour, compared to many years ago, how can this be. Sure equipment, training methods etc have improved but the good old human body is only capable of so much.

I am going to stick my neck out now and say that I doubt that anyone at one or another stage who took part in the tour is not using some sort of stimulant...they are just staying ahead of the testing procedures.

It is very sad as the entire tour and sport gets tarnished, but all sports go through tough times sooner or later...think soccer and what it happenning in Italy etc. I am sure cycling will recover!

July 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterWayne
Been trying to follow the events while on vacation... what a surprise to see comments coming in about testosterone levels and such related to Floyd.

Like Martin Dugard and Austin Murphy, I really do want to believe Floyd Landis. What I know about the man leads me to believe he wouldn't use a cheat method to win the Tour.

Thee are some other tidbits that are unclear � such as the connection between the Tour management organization and the L'Equipe newspaper, changes in ratios from 6:1 to 4:1, etc.

For now, I'll wait and see how that B sample shakes out and hold on to the innocent until proven guilty approach with Floyd. I would hate to see this year's Tour further tarnished, along with Floyd's reputation.

However, If (somehow) it can be proven true, I'd be very sad about the whole affair. The Tour would feel very hollow.
July 31, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Best wishes.Halamadak!
August 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBob Mokk
Hmmm, I believe the measured level of testosterone was 11:1 against an allowed level of 4:1 and a normally occurring level (in humans anyway) of between 1:1 and 2:1.

So about five and a half times higher than the acceptable natural level for a human.

Suspect? Pretty damning I'd say...
August 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterIan
Ian, that 11:1 ratio seems pretty high and tough to look past � It would be naive to look past.

I'd like to think Floyd more reliable and ethical, but I have to consider the pressure he was under to come back and win. I also don't know Floyd personally, so how could I really know what was in his heart that day?

I suppose someone could have spiked a drink or food to have this effect on Floyd the following day, but how would we ever know that? If that was the case I can't imagine how horrifying it would be for Floyd to sincerely not know what was up.

I'd would like to see the B sample results and hear Landis' response to this high level, but yes, it is getting tough to not think (barring foul play on someone else's part) that Floyd certainly had something strage going on during stage 17.

Either way it plays out, I find it sad for Floyd and the sport of cycling.
August 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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