View Full Version : Tour de France Update: SPOILER WITHIN!

07-13-2006, 03:21 PM


American Takes Lead at Tour de France

VIELHA, Spain, July 13 — Floyd Landis, who pedaled in support of Lance Armstrong for three of his seven consecutive Tour de France victories, went a long way today in maintaining the United States’ grip on the world’s most prestigious cycling event, taking command of the Tour in a punishing mountain stage.

Riding with what he revealed recently is a degenerative condition in his right hip, Landis powered through five major climbs in the Pyrenees to secure the yellow jersey as the Tour’s overall leader.

Landis, 30, who was raised in a Mennonite family in Pennsylvania, arrived at the Tour as perhaps the top American contender, having won three events already this year: the Tour of California, the Tour of Georgia and Paris-Nice. When a doping scandal knocked many of the world’s best riders out the field on the eve of the Tour de France, Landis’s path to victory became even more direct. Now, barring crash or injury, he can be expected to finish on top if he can persevere through the critical stages in the Alps next week.

“Floyd Landis is without doubt the favorite,” Denis Menchov, today’s stage winner, said through a translator on French television, according to The Associated Press.

Menchov is a Russian with the Dutch team Rabobank and another strong contender for victory when the Tour ends July 23. He was first in a three-man sprint finish. . A revived Levi Leipheimer, the American leader of the Gerolsteiner team from Germany, finished second, and Landis was third.

“It’s always nice to win a stage, but the goal is to win the Tour,” Landis said.

“It was more important to take time,” he added, referring to gaining time on his rivals on the final climb of the 128.3-mile stage, when he left many of his challengers behind.

The most difficult stage in the Pyrenees produced a clearer outline of who will be battling for final victory next week in the Alps. In addition to Landis and Menchov, the top names include Cadel Evans, an Australian with Davitamon, Carlos Sastre, a Spaniard with CSC, and Andreas Klöden, a German with T-Mobile.

The first three finishers were all clocked in 6 hours 6 minutes 25 seconds in the trip from Tarbes, France, to Pla-de-Beret in a Catalonian corner of southwest Spain. Landis had eight seconds deducted from his time for finishing third, and that was enough to put him in the yellow jersey.

Second over all by those eight seconds is Cyril Dessel, a Frenchman with AG2R, who won the yellow jersey on Wednesday. Menchov is third, 1:01 behind Landis, with Evans fourth, 1:52 behind, and Sastre fifth in the 165-man field, 2:29 behind.

“A stage like this is always difficult,” Menchov said. “But I felt good and hope I’ll keep feeling that way.”

Menchov finished second in the Vuelta a España last year and was promoted to first place when Roberto Heras, a Spaniard who finished first, was disqualified for doping.

Stage 11 of Tour, conducted today in hot weather, was a washout for the Discovery Channel team from the United States and a setback for T-Mobile from Germany.

José Azevedo of Portugal was the first Discovery rider to finish, 4:10 behind Menchov. He is 18th over all — a low ranking for the top rider on a team that won the previous seven Tours on the shoulders of Armstrong. Yaroslav Popovych, a Ukrainian with Discovery, was 6:25 back and is now 23rd, and George Hincapie, an American, was 21:23 back and is 40th.

“It’s just not coming together for me,” Hincapie said, according to The A.P. “Very disappointed.”

The race for the overall title “is over for me,” he said.

The Discovery Channel team must be sharing the sentiment of a sign along the road that said, in French, “Lance, we miss you.” Now retired, Armstrong plans to visit the team during the final week of the Tour, starting Monday through the finish in Paris. He will arrive in Gap on the second of two days off, he said in an e-mail message today.

Discovery Channel may need more than his inspiration after its disastrous showing.

The stage was only somewhat better for T-Mobile, which started the day with four men in the first nine over all but finished with two there — Klöden in sixth place, 2:29 behind, and Michael Rogers, an Australian, in seventh place, 3:22 behind.

Leipheimer’s prospects improved considerably. A main contender after finishing sixth last year, he lost more than six minutes in a long time trial on Saturday and has been slowed by crashes and other problems, which do not include any medical issues, he said this morning.

“Today, I’ll go on the offensive — if I feel good,” he said. And he obviously felt better. Now in 13th place, 5:39 behind Landis, Leipheimer will be among those to watch in the Alps.

So too, of course, will be Landis. Having been a lieutenant for Armstrong for the United States Postal Service team from 2002 through 2004, he learned something about taking charge of the Tour, which Armstrong habitually did in the first big mountain stage.

In a news conference, Landis was asked about his hip condition, the result of a crash in 2002. It will require replacement surgery, probably this fall.

Since the crash, he said, “I realized my career won’t go on forever. I guess I should have realized that anyway.

“So I’m honored to be sitting here,” he added, clad in the yellow jersey.

07-13-2006, 03:24 PM
The American Tour De France.

07-13-2006, 03:36 PM


07-13-2006, 03:45 PM
What, is he the only one who figured out how to get away with doping?

07-13-2006, 03:47 PM
What, is he the only one who figured out how to get away with doping?

awesome sig

07-13-2006, 03:54 PM
Well, I haven't been giving two shits about the Tour this year, but now this is really starting to get funny. I can see Landis winning it, then coming back to do it again next year with a bionic hip, driving the Frogs completely over the edge in the process.

07-13-2006, 04:07 PM
Maybe I can be a pro biker.

07-13-2006, 05:31 PM
Maybe I can be a pro biker.

Depends on whether or not you are willing to do enough drugs.