Thursday 20 July 2006

Floyd in France

I should update this blog more often but sometimes a little inspiration is needed... like Floyd Landis' Stage 17 Tour de France win today.
This year's Tour de France has ben action, action, action from start to finish. Yesterday (Wednesday), Floyd Landis, wearing the yellow jersey, completely and utterly blew. As has happened to other TdF greats - Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Lance Armstrong - Landis ran out of fuel, losing massive time chunks on the climb up to La Toussuire and ultimately, his yellow leader's jersey. The reason? Landis did not eat enough, his energy resources were depleted and he did well just to make the finish line.

Landis not only lost his position as Tour leader, he dropped out of the Top 10 to 11th place and with 3 stages left (Thurs, Fri & Sat) was over 8-minutes down in the overall standings. As commentators Phil and Paul said, there was no way that Tour favourite Landis would be able to recover from this. But, recover he did.

Today's stage was another massive Alpine monster with a B.I.G. out of category climb. As I only caught the last 20km of the stage today, I heard from the commentary that Landis had broken away from the main bunch at around 50km. When I got to the telly some 150km later Landis had blown away the rest of the field and was on his own over 5-minutes ahead of the chasing riders. Gaining a finishline time bonus too, Landis leapt from 11th to 3rd and is now only 30-seconds down. During tomorrow's relatively flat stage Landis will have to stay with his competition (helpfully make up more time on them) and I'm hoping that during Saturday's individual time trial stage he'll pull out all the stops.

In the post-race interview Landis said that yesterday had been a bad day for him and that today his goal was to make up for it. That he did. What really caught my attention was when Landis, replying to the interviewer's comment about not giving up, said something to the effect of, "My team has worked so hard over the last two weeks to get me here, there is no way I could give up". Although Landis won today's stage (his first ever TdF stage win), notching stage wins is not his objective. Landis wants to win the Tour. He wants the yellow jersey. This is his all-consuming ambition.

Know what? I think he's going to do it because from what I've seen, Landis wants this win more than anyone else out there. He's a strong rider, yesterday was a disaster and today he showed just what he is made of. This race is far from signed and sealed. Today my heart really went out to him so he gets my cheer and I hope to see him riding into Paris on Sunday in yellow. You've got to want it bad enough to get it. He does.

In AR we joke about just hanging in there and that if you're making mistakes, so are other teams, and that if you just keep going and stay in the race, you could do pretty well. Chris Carmichael addressed a similar theme today with his comments on Landis' amazing ride (and related to Oscar Pereiro's early massive time losses on stage 10). "The lesson to learn from these two riders is that regardless of the deficit you find yourself in, it’s imperative to go on the offensive and continue racing. The only man who truly loses is the man who completely gives up." Viva la Chris.