Earlier during the Tour we talked to Floyd Landis training adviser Allen Lim about the Phonak riders form and preparation for the race. His storming ride back into contention during stage 17 prompted another chat; what tactics, mental approach and power outputs came into play on the twisting, gruelling road to Morzine? Cyclingnews Shane Stokes reports.
At 17.34 on Wednesday evening Floyd Landis Tour hopes seemed to be finally over. He had started the day ten seconds clear of Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) and a full 202 up on Cyril Dessel (AG2R-Prevoyance) and every expectation was that he would continue to extend his lead in the two remaining Alpine stages. However Landis suffered a dramatic collapse on the final climb up to the 1,690 metre summit finish of La Toussuire, losing 823 to the other overall contenders and ending the day 11th overall, 808 down.
Game over. Jersey gone. Cest fini.
Or so we thought. Landis, though, had other ideas. Theories abounded as to what could have happened; hunger knock, heat exhaustion, his dodgy hip. The Phonak rider put it down simply to a non-specific bad day, the notorious un jour sans which is the fear of every Tour contender, and vowed to go down fighting. On Thursday he came out all guns blazing, attacked 72 kilometres after the start, caught and dropped each of the 11 riders who were clear in a breakaway group and reached the finish in Morzine 540 ahead of Carlos Sastre (CSC) and 708 up on maillot jaune Oscar Pereiro. Once the various time bonuses were factored in to the post-stage equation, he ended the day third overall, just 30 seconds off the race lead. It was a spectacular turnaround.
"Floyd went to bed last night knowing that he was the best athlete here and also being angry with himself for having such a bad day," his training advisor and physiologist Allen Lim told Cyclingnews on Thursday evening. "He woke up again this morning still feeling angry, and had something to prove.