Make no mistake
After the debacle last Friday, the names of Valverde, Landis, Evans, Schleck, Leipheimer, Menchov, and Hincapie have gone from outside favourites to real podium contenders. And with T-Mobile and Team CSC both losing their lead riders, the Phonak Cycling Team have, by default, strengthened themselves, placing 30 year-old American Floyd Landis in the spotlight as a man who could win overall. Anthony Tan reports.
"Well, I think my team will stay behind me, that's the important thing... assuming that I've done my job - would you like a number?" laughed Landis.
At 20 years of age, this lanky Mennonite with soft ginger hair rejected his parent's wishes to ignore the temptations the modern world had to offer, and hasn't looked back since. His typically quiet nature, skewed humour and softly spoken voice belie a rare inner determination, although his faces changes to one of a grinch as he pedals in anger up the mountains of France, a place where he took arguably his biggest victory to date in Paris-Nice earlier this year.
However, there was another race in France where things didn't go too well. Less than three weeks ago at the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, a promising second place in a 43 kilometre time trial around Bourg-de-Péage was followed by a flop the very next day up Le Mont Ventoux, losing nine and a half minutes to stage winner Denis Menchov.
"From the beginning of the season, our objective has been the Tour. I didn't expect a few races to go as well as they did - and I didn't expect the Dauphiné to go as bad as it did!" he laughed again. "But I was happy with the time trial; the first day on Ventoux was not so good, and after that, I decided to use it as a training race. I didn't go there with that in mind - I would say I was disappointed with myself - but like I said, the objective is the Tour."
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