Floyd Landis, team leader at Phonak and one of this year's Tour de France overall contenders, is hopeful for a good result in Saturday's first overall test against the clock. Asked if he had already seen the course, Landis, said, "For me, it's better to check out the course on the day of the race. So we'll get out there early in the morning and ride the 52 km."
But Landis knows that the profile of the stage will suit his abilities. "It's a rather flat course with few curves," he continued. "As far as the profile goes, it's the kind of parcours that I like because normally I can take full advantage of my strengths on such flat courses. I'm happy with the course and feel comfortable with it."
The winner of the 2006 Paris-Nice has already a plan laid out. "I think it's important not to start off too fast," Landis commented. "It's better to approach it a bit conservatively and then go for it during the final 10 km. For me, experience shows that I'm usually successful with that tactic."
After the weekend, the Tour de France will finally move towards the mountains, where the race for the yellow jersey will be on. "The first mountain stage already has two demanding tests, the Col de Soudet and the Col de Marie Blanque," he continued. "But I think, because the second mountain is 40 km from the finish, that there could be a large group struggling for the win. [The next stage, which goes into Spain] could be the most difficult stage ahead of the Alps. The Col de Tourmalet has a category HC and then there are four category ones. The final part is not so steep but very long, 13 km. I think only a small group will be fighting for the win there."
But Landis knows that the hardest part will come only in the third week of the Tour. "Although the Pyrenees will be difficult, I personally expect the race to be decided in the Alps," he concluded.