Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

7.20.2006

That’s Not Supposed to Happen

This was going to be a post about the importance of consistency in winning the Tour de France. Levi Leipheimer has looked as good in the mountains as any of the main contenders, but a bad day on the first time trial set him back 5-6 minutes and basically blew his chances of winning. On a really good day you can gain a minute or two on the best riders on the really tough climbs, but usually they’re good enough to keep you in their sites and limit their losses. Yesterday, for instance, Levi broke away from the front of the race on a climb in the middle of the stage, but they reeled him back in on the final climb and he ended up finishing 9th and actually losing a bit of time. So you’ve got to be good, but you also have to be consistent. One bad day is all it takes to take you out of the race.

That’s what happened to Floyd Landis yesterday. He’d been looking the strongest of all the contenders and recaptured the yellow jersey two days ago. It was his race to lose. Unfortunately, he lost it. He struggled from the start of the stage yesterday, but stayed with the front pack until the last climb. Then he just couldn’t go, finishing 10 minutes behind the stage winner and losing 8 minutes on all his rivals in the final 11 kilometers. With only 1 mountain stage left in the race, there was no way he could recover enough time to challenge for the win. He announced during the first rest day he’s been fighting a degenerative condition in his hip since breaking it four years ago and will have to go through hip replacement surgery after the Tour this year. He’ll try to come back from that, but who knows if he’ll ever compete at this level again. Yesterday Floyd Landis lost what might be his only chance to ever win the Tour de France.

That’s what I was planning to write, anyway. But today Floyd did the incredible. He blew away the field on the first climb. His rivals tailed him at first, but decided they would kill themselves off at that pace and let Floyd go thinking he’d do the same. They let him get a gap of over 9 minutes while waiting for him to break, then started chasing in earnest. He would have to come back; those kind of breakaways always do. Except the most anyone could gain on him was a couple of minutes. Carlos Sastre finished the stage second, almost 6 minutes back, and the yellow jersey lost over 7. At the end of the day Floyd was back up to 3rd (from 11th), only 30 minutes behind the leader. He’s been the best time trialist of the contenders and should, assuming he has any legs left, ride himself back into yellow during the time trial on the next-to-last stage this Saturday.

To provide a bit more context for what Floyd accomplished today, let me share commentator Paul Sherwen’s report on the day:
The end of the Landis dream.!!!! Did I actually write that yesterday! How good it feels to be wrong. I have just witnessed one of the greatest racing days that I have ever seen. Yes, there was Claudio Chiappucci in 1992 on his way to Sestrieres but that wasn't the day after he had cracked and lost ten minutes.

I was so confident this morning that Landis wouldn't come back into this race- yesterday his team sucked, he blew up, race over, yeah! - WRONG. Today the team rose to the occasion and set a pace from hell to set up this attack from Floyd on the first climb of the day, the Col de Saisies.

He knew that everyone was afraid of this final stage, but he wasn't, he had nothing to loose. His first attack blew away the yellow jersey and when he saw the damage he was doing, he took off on his own chasing an 11 man group which made up the early breakaway. Once he caught them he blew them away one by one.

I have seen a similar move on this same route before, it was in 2000 and the attacker was Marco Pantani. He was upset with his battle of words with Lance Armstrong, but after leading over a couple of cols Pantani blew up and abandoned. Pantani's attack did however set up for an incredibly bad ascent of the Joux-Plane for Armstrong who like Landis yesterday had forgotten to eat because of the pressure of the chase and blew up.

I was wondering if that would happen to Floyd. His coach Robbie Ventura gave us some insight. He said Floyd had done rides like this in training and could survive. However until the final climb of the day I never believed it- what a great day- now if nothing else goes wrong he should win the Tour and twenty four hours ago I wouldn't have put much money on that.
Joy!

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