Thursday, July 27, 2006



You can track the breaking information about 2007 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis' positive test (A sample) for high levels of testosterone at News of the positive test is shaking the professional sport...again.

A PROCESS FOR GETTING AT THE TRUTH. Landis is denying he used a testosterone patch for recovery. He has requested testing of his B sample. If it proves positive, he can have an endocrinological test performed to see whether or not there is or were natual causes for the high levels of testosterone in the blood sample taken immediately following his Stage 17 win--the day he made up over 8 minutes on his rivals and set up his eventual Tour victory.

IT MAKES NO SENSE. It makes no sense for Landis to have flagrantly used testosterone as a recovery after his Stage 16 debacle. Every rider knows he will be blood tested if he wins a stage and that the Yellow Jersey wearer is always tested. According to the stories, there are a range of possible valid explanations for elevated levels of testosterone.

THE WAY IT MUST BE. I'm hopeful Landis will eventually be cleared through good medical testing and analysis, and through a rigorous process. Given the present environment of professional and amateur sports, that's the way it must be. For all the indignities and second-guessing it causes, it is critical that a level playing field be secured. When we herald a new champion, we want to be sure we have an authentic champion, not a dope-hyped cheater on our hands. Landis is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. If he is ultimately proven innocent, let us celebrate the triumph. If he is ultimately proven beyond reasonable doubt to have cheated, then let the exposure runs its course and instruct us all.

Sunday, July 23, 2006



He's been there before. He's been on the Champs Elysees as a member of the championship team before. But now Floyd Landis is in Paris in the manner which every cyclist dreams. He's there as the winner of the Tour de France, the wearer of the 21st and final Maillot Jaune.

It's been a long, hard-fought battle out on the roads--across the fields, over the mountains, in the time trials, through 23 days and over 2,000 miles. Out of 189 entered into the greatest race, one achieves the best overall time. And this year, this time, it's an American from San Diego. Congratulations, Floyd. Well done.

I'm not sure how many people in America or around the world thought the next winner of the Tour de France would be an American. When Lance Armstrong retired, the crown was up for grabs. It was anyone's dream. Landis had faith in himself and, even after falling overwhelmingly behind in Stage 16, willed himself back into the lead and on to the top of the podium.

Saturday, July 22, 2006



THE NEXT AMERICAN IN PARIS? American Floyd Landis did what he set out to do, overcoming overwhelming obstacles along the way. He's now in possession of the coveted Maillot Jaune--the Yellow Jersey--as race leader of the Tour de France as the peloton prepares to make its last leg, a largely ceremonial jaunt into Paris on Sunday.

THIRD TIME'S A CHARM? He'd worn the Yellow Jersey twice earlier in the race. He'd given it up voluntarily the first time to Oscar Pereiro, considered a non-contender who rode himself into contention on a long breakaway. Landis had regained the race leadership on the fabled L'Alpe d'Huez. But the next day he lost it again--most thought permanently--when he fell behind eight minutes to his rivals on the last mountain climb. The next day, the last day in the Alps, Landis went for broke, pulled out all the stops, astounded the critics, confounded his rivals, broke away and rode himself to within 30 seconds of Pereiro's race-leading time.

TIME TRIAL DRAMA. It all came down to this second to last stage--the pentultimate stage--and his ability to finish the 57 kilometer individual time trial far enough ahead of Oscar Pereiro, Carlos Sastre, and Andreas Kloden to overcome a 30-second deficit to Pereiro. Sastre rode poorly. Pereiro did extremely well, finishing the stage in fourth place. But Landis rode faster than Pereiro; he finished one-minute, 29-seconds ahead of Pereiro. Landis' third-place finish in this stage put him into the race lead, with a 59-second lead over Pereiro and a one-minute, 29-second lead over Andreas Kloden. Congratulations to Landis for an incredible comeback!

ALL BUT OVER. Unless riders and teams break all the rules for the final stage--Stage 20--tomorrow, Landis should be the next American to win the Tour de France. I wouldn't put it past some rider or team to, like Landis did, go for broke in Stage 20, but it is not likely. What is likely is that Floyd Landis will roll onto the Champs Elysees as only the fourth American in over 90 years of this storied international competition to win the Tour de France. It will be the first time Americans have won it back to back. It will be quite a celebration in Paris tomorrow!

Friday, July 21, 2006



ARLENE LANDIS WATCHES HER SON. This photo by Carolyn Kaster (AP) is, to me, the most incredible image related to this year's Tour de France.

SIMPLICITY AND TECHNOLOGY. The Landis family of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is conservative Mennonite. Living in simplicity and community, they choose not to possess or routinely use an automobile or TV. Arlene Landis, mother of Tour de France contender Floyd Landis, walks to a neighbor's house to watch her son ride the greatest cycling race in the world (below).

ENDEARING BONDS. In this photo (above) she not only watches OLN's coverage of the Tour de France, but holds up a phone to the TV, perhaps for a friend or relative to hear of her son's internationally-respected effort. I just love this contrast of cultures and endearing bonds of family!

FREE TO LEAVE. News sources report that Floyd Landis left his cloistered community after graduation from high school. Leaving such communities is always a free and considered choice for Mennonite and Amish youth, not an act of rebellion (as some in the news media are trying to cast Landis' departure). Landis loved riding throughout his youth. After leaving his community, Landis has made San Diego his home. From that base he become a nationally-prominant mountain bike competitor before switching to road racing and becoming part of Lance Armstrong's Tour de France-winning team.

Thursday, July 20, 2006



PARDON THE SPIRITUAL LANGUAGE. It's a resurrection! It's redemption! Okay, maybe it's over the top to put what happened in today's stage of the Tour de France in such spiritually-charged terms.

HE WAS DEAD AND IS ALIVE. Let's just say that after yesterday's disasterous Stage 16 finish, American Floyd Landis' realistic possibilities for winning the Tour were dead. But after his long break-kneck breakaway over the last of the French Alps in today's stage, Landis' hopes for wearing the Yellow Jersey in Paris on Sunday are definitely alive.

HE WAS WRITTEN OFF AND IS REDEEMED. Yesterday, folks were writing Landis off as a pretender instead of a contender. Today, he found redemption in the eyes of the toughest of cycling and sports critics. Experts are calling today's comeback the greatest in cycling history. It was truly inspiring to follow.

CHARGING FROM 11th to 3rd PLACE. On this, the last mountain stage in the Alps, Landis used his Phonak teammates to set a blistering pace on the first climb then broke away from the pack for an inspired and inspiring solo flight. He made a heroic effort to stay clear of his rivals to the very end, using his championship mountain bike experience at climbing and descending to his advantage. He became the 10th American to win a stage of the Tour de France. More importantly, he finished with a time good enough--five minutes, forty-one seconds ahead of second-place finisher Carlos Sastre--to put him back into 3rd place overall. Landis is now just 30 seconds behind the Yellow Jersey of Oscar Pereiro and 17 seconds behind Carlos Sastre.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO. Everything now hinges on Saturday's individual time trial. Between Landis, Pereiro, and Sastre, Landis has clearly superior ability in time trials. He was over one minute and thirty seconds better than all the current contenders in Stage 7, the first individual time trial of this edition of the Tour de France. He must be considered a favorite to win or finish ahead of his rivals in the 2nd individual time trial stage coming up on Saturday.

IT AIN'T OVER. In recent years, the Tour has been Lance Armstrong’s to lose. But this edition of the Tour de France is anyone’s to win. And so far it has been an unpredictable free-for-all. The Yellow Jersey seems like a hot potato nobody can hold on to for very long. The current leader, Oscar Pereiro, was over 30 minutes behind Landis after the Pyrenees mountains; now he leads. Landis was down and out, it was said; but then he fought back. Go figure! Anything can happen before Paris on Sunday. Tune in. Hang on. It ain’t over…

Wednesday, July 19, 2006



I'm sure Floyd Landis would love to rewrite the last 45 minutes of Stage 16 of the Tour de France. He appeared to be doing fine...until... Within the last 15 kilometers of the finish and on the last of four major mountain climbs, the American could not kick when his rivals kicked. His legs simply had nothing more to give; it was as if his whole body shuttered and nearly shut down. While his rivals powered to the top and bypassed him in the standings (he went from first place to eleventh, just like that), Landis struggled to finish over 10 minutes behind stage winner Mickael Rasmussen. Rasmussen also took--and will keep--the Polka-dot Jersey as King of the Mountains.

CAN LANDIS RECOVER? Bad day at the office for Landis. Will he assess his losses and try to regroup for a comeback? What happens when one cracks on a big mountain stage like that? Can they recover? Can they recover for the next mountain stage? Does it take the heart out of them? I don't know. We'll certainly see on Thursday's Stage 17--the last mountain stage of the Tour de France.

LEIPHEIMER WATCH. Levi Leipheimer again attacked valiantly on the next to the last mountain. His effort succeeded in moving him up one place--from ninth to eighth. But one place today, one place tomorrow, one place the next day... Who knows?

YELLOW IS UP FOR GRABS. Is this a crazy Tour or what? The Yellow Jersey is like a hot potato this year. While it will be less interesting to Americans not having Landis in contention for a Yellow Jersey (10 points for the person who can show me how he can ride himself back into legitimate contention for a podium finish), it is no less dramatic than ever before. We all knew the Tour de France after Armstrong's retirement would be a crap shoot. Landis was making it look too easy. Well, we're looking at a field of no less than 8 contenders who can win this thing. Stay tuned.

CADENCE MATTERS. I noticed that Landis' cadence has been a slow grind all along, similar to that of Ullrich. It is quite different than Armstrong's fast-pedaling cadence for the mountains, where he would effectively leave his rivals in his dust. Chris Carmichael has repeatedly preached the important difference in energy supply and recovery for these two kinds of pedaling. Was this an issue?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006



TINY COUNTRY, BIG STAGE. Franck Schleck of tiny Luxembourg won on cycling’s biggest stage--the fabled L’Alpe d’Huez. Schleck parlayed his participation in a day-long 25-man breakaway group into victory, out-kicking Italian star Damiano Cunego to the finish line atop the long, steep mountain of 21 switchbacks.

AND THE CONTENDERS… A minute behind Schleck and Cunego were the leading contenders for the Tour de France--Floyd Landis and Andreas Kloden, followed by Carlos Sastre and Levi Leipheimer. A minute later were more contenders--all losing time to Landis but not too severely--Denis Menchov, Michael Rasmussen, Oscar Pereiro, Cadel Evans, Michael Rogers, Cyril Dessel, and Haimar Zubeldia.

LANDIS BACK IN YELLOW. Landis finished over one minute and forty seconds ahead of Spaniard Oscar Pereiro, so the American with Mennonite roots is back in the Yellow Jersey by 10 seconds. Landis did not launch any attacks, he did not put the hammer down, he simply rode with his fellow contenders until all but one--Andreas Kloden--fell behind.

LEIPHEIMER IMPRESSES…AGAIN. American Levi Leipheimer finished 1:10 after Landis and his solid mountain climbing has moved him up to 9th place for the overall lead. Of the leading contenders, only Landis, Kloden, and Sastre finished ahead of Leipheimer today. The Montanan is clearly making a challenge to stand on the podium for first, second, or third place in Paris. I hope he remains steady in the mountains over the next two days. Oh, if he could just take that individual time trial back!

A HUMAN ZOO ON THE MOUNTAIN. L’Alpe d’Huez is a zoo of over 300,000 fans lining the steep road for the last 9 kilometers of the stage. Crowds are within arms length of the riders on both sides, cheering, waving, running, yelling. The riders truly run a dangerous but invigorating gauntlet of (often drunken) humanity. There is nothing quite like it in cycling or in any sport.

WHO’S GOT THE POWER? Heroic efforts on L’Alpe d’Huez are one thing; having power left for solid climbs or attacks over the next two Alpine stages is another matter. The question is: how much energy did the leading contenders expend during Stage 15’s two HC mountains? And how much do they have in reserve to unleash on “highest categories” Galbier and Croix-de-Fer (along with several Cat 1 &2 climbs) on Wednesday and on Joux-Plane (along with several Cat 1 & 2 climbs) on Thursday?

Monday, July 17, 2006



IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOUNTAIN. After a Prologue and 14 stages, including several punishing days in the Pyrenees, the 156 cyclists remaining in this year's Tour de France take their second break. It's really the last chance to consume energy, get sleep, mend wounds, and steel themselves before a trilogy of stages that will test the mettle of every team and rider.

LEGEND THAT HAUNTS & EXALTS. The Tour rests in Gap, a gateway to the Alps mountain range. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday contains a plethora of "HC" - "highest category" or "beyond categorization" - mountain climbs. Tuesday's ride includes L'Alpe-d'Huez - a mountain made legendary by past Tour de France feats. This mountain both haunts and exalts. It is not the highest peak, just the one most fabled. A rider has died on this mountain. The crowds are incredible on it. Tour wins have been decided here. Whoever crests this monster first, whether or not he wins the Tour, will have ridden himself into the respect and affection of Tour fans worldwide.

TOP 15. Here are the top 15 placements in the Tour after 14 stages:
1 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears @ 64.05.04
2 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak @ 1.29
3 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance @ 1.37
4 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank @ 2.30
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto @ 2.46
6 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC @ 3.21
7 Andreas Kloden (Ger) T-Mobile @ 3.58
8 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile @ 4.51
9 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Agritubel @ 5.02
10 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance @ 5.13
11 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel @ 5.44
12 Marcus Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner @ 5.46
13 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi @ 5.55
14 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) T-Mobile @ 7.07
15 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner @ 7.08

REALISTIC CHANCES? Of these 15 top places, it's hard to limit even those who are seven minutes down. Levi Leipheimer nearly won the hardest mountain in the Pyreness and appears to be back on his game. T-Mobile riders seem to have the strongest team, but they were nowhere to be found at the end of the biggest mountain stage so far. Big minutes can be gained or lost quickly on HC climbs and stage-ending mountain-top finishes like L'Alpe-d-Huez. One attack at this point can catapult a rider to the top; one failure to respond to an attack can take a would-be contender out of contention.

NO HEROICS...YET. Heroic is a relative term. Every one of these riders is doing something heroic everyday that they stay in the saddle. But in terms of Tour de France heroics, we have not yet seen the kind of put-the-hammer-down climbs or blister-the-competition time trials that Lance Armstrong gave the Tour. We keep waiting for a rider to make a definitive move. But, in reality, these riders are making their moves and playing their hands very carefully. None have yet been able to dominate. Landis may, after a few more stages. Or, Australian Cadel Evans, currently in 5th, has yet to show his outstanding abilities. Heroics, if they are to come, will come in the next three days. Watch closely.

Sunday, July 16, 2006



Pierrick Fedrigo must have the coolest name in France. Certainly it's rolling off the lips of millions of Francophones today, as the 27-year old native worked an escape to his best advantage to win Stage 14 of the Tour de France.

The 2005 French national champion, Fedrigo out-dueled fellow-escapee Salvatore Commesso for stage honors. Both were only three seconds ahead of hard-charging American Christian VandeVelde. The leading group of the fractured peloton was not far behind; all the leading contenders for the overall race title were present and accounted for.

Saturday, July 15, 2006



GOING, GOING, GONE. Rarely does a breakaway stay away to the finish line. The peloton chases it down and swallows it. Hardly ever does a breakaway stay away all the way to the end....and finish nearly 30 minutes ahead of the peloton. Hardly ever...until today. A five-man group put the hammer down and the peloton leadership never felt it necessary to chase them down, even reduce their time gap. None of the escapees are real contenders for the Tour win, but one--Oscar Pereiro Soi--more than wiped out his 28-minute, 50-second deficit to Floyd Landis. With his 2nd-place finish just behind stage winner Jens Voigt, Pereiro moved into 1-minute, 29-second lead over Landis.

FROM 46th to 1st PLACE IN DAY. A Spaniard riding for the CAISSE D'EPARGNE-ILLES BALEARS team, Pereiro started today's stage in 46th place. He will start Sunday's Stage 14 in first place and will wear the coveted Maillot Jaune. Unless there is a huge breakaway in Stage 14--and nothing can be counted out in this unpredictable Tour--he can keep it through Monday's rest day and wear it for Tuesday's first Alp mountain challenge. Pereiro lost nearly 22 minutes to Landis in Thursday'sHerculeann mountain stage up to the Pla-de-beret. He isn't likely to hang on it after that day. But, for now, let all Spain bask in the glory!

YELLOW ON SEVEN RIDERS...SO FAR. This is the seventh change in the Yellow Jersey in 13 stages. It's been on the back of Thor Hushovd (Norway), George Hincapie (USA), Tom Boonen (Belgium), Serhiy Honchar (Ukraine), Cyril Dessel (France), Floyd Landis (USA), and now, Pereiro (Spain).

NO GC SHAKE-UPS. Since the peloton finished together, they all maintain the same rankings and same time differences between each other. The only difference is that they all move down one place as Pereiro takes first place. Landis, commenting on why he and his team decided to let the Yellow Jersey go, indicated that none of today's breakaway group were a threat for the Tour win, and that the Phonak team--along with all the teams and riders--were quite tired and anticipating energy resources needed for critical upcoming mountain stages.

STAGE RESULTS. Today's stage, a full 230 kilometers (that's 142.9 miles, folks), was the longest stage of this year's tour. It was also the hottest, so far. Full results of Stage 13 (and all previous stages) by Cyclingnews. This gives you a rundown on overall rankings in each jersey category, too.

HEIGHT, WEIGHT, DISTANCE. Use this link for quick and easy conversions back and forth between metric and British/American measurements during the tour. 1 kilometer is .6214 miles. 1 mile is 1.609 kilometers. Floyd Landis weighs 68 kilograms...or 150 pounds. He is 1.78 meters tall...or 5.89 feet. The average speed of the fourth hour of today's stage was 40.2 km/h...or 25 mph (try riding 25 mph for as long as you can...these guys are good!). The temperature at the top of one of today's category 4 climbs soared to 42 degrees celsius...or 107 degrees Fahrenheit. During my planned 2,000-mile (3219-kilometer) bicycle ride in India in January 2007, we plan to cover an average of 100 kilmeters (a "metric century" or 62 miles) each day in temperatures between 30-35 degrees celsius. So, how hot will it be for our daily rides?

GREAT TOUR PHOTOS. Scroll easily through lots of pages of really great Tour photography at Yahoo!

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STAGE: OLN provides free video highlights and commentary wrap-ups of each stage by Bob Roll and Al Trautwig. A different set of excellent video highlights are at (click on "latest video").

LISTEN TO THE NEXT STAGE LIVE. provides a link to Eurosport's live audio coverage of the Tour. Audio coverage usually begins at 7 AM each day. Limited Internet TV viewing is also accessible at this site.

Friday, July 14, 2006



CAN YOU SAY "YAROSLAV?" The Disco boys missed out on the glory on Thursday's mountain spectacular, watching their Yellow Jersey hopes fade, but found something still to brag about at the end of Stage 12. Discovery Channel had riders in several big breakaways, including American George Hincapie in an early break that garnered him more than a few mountain climbing points. But, ultimately, it was Yaroslav Popovich who got clear with a small group in the last half of the race. The Ukranian then attacked his fellow escapees in the last 3 kilometers to take the stage victory over four minutes ahead of the peloton.


POPOVICH RIDES INTO 10TH PLACE. Popovich's escape and finish ahead of the peloton moves him into the top ten for the General Classification or overall race leadership. He's 4:15 behind the race leader.

LANDIS STILL LEADS. American Floyd Landis wears the Yellow Jersey again after this stage. he arrived at the finish line with the peloton, along with all his rivals and they all--as usual--receive the same time. It is feasible for Landis to wear the Maillot Jaune all the way to Paris.

WHAT'S AHEAD. Saturday's Stage 13 and Sunday's Stage 14 cover relatively mild terrain. After the second rest day on Monday, the riders will face a triology of fierce mountain stages in the Alps. Any further shake-up in the race lead will take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Friday is a "transitional" flat stage--one for the sprinters to charge to the line. Saturday's Stage 19 is a 56k individual time trial. If the Yellow Jersey is still close, this could determine the race winner. Remember, Landis placed second in the first individual time trial and the man who won it is out of the GC contention. If Landis is wearing yellow going into this stage, he'll come out the solid winner. If he's not wearing yellow at it's begining, he could be wearing it 56k later. Sunday, July 23, is a final drive to Paris, another one for the sprinters.

STAGE RESULTS. Full results of Stage 12 (and all previous stages) by Cyclingnews. This gives you a rundown on overall rankings in each jersey category, too.
GREAT TOUR PHOTOS. Scroll easily through lots of pages of really great Tour photography at Yahoo!

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STAGE: OLN provides free video highlights and commentary wrap-ups of each stage by Bob Roll and Al Trautwig.

LISTEN TO THE NEXT STAGE LIVE. provides a link to Eurosport's live audio coverage of the Tour. Audio coverage usually begins at 6 or 7 AM each day. Limited Internet TV viewing is also accessible at this site.

Thursday, July 13, 2006



TOUGHEST STAGE...SO FAR. Four category 1 mountains and one "beyond categorization" mountain ripped the peloton apart and created some real separation of times in the race. Unbelievable punishment. More than a few riders, including Iban Mayo, quit the race in these Pyrenean peaks. At the end of the day, a group of no more than 17 were together for the final climb into a Spanish mountain resort. By the end of the climb only three remained together--Russian Denis Menchov and Americans Levi Leipheimer and Floyd Landis.

UNFLAPPABLE FLOYD. Menchov crossed the finish line a few feet ahead of a well-recovered Leipheimer and the ever-so-steady Landis. Attack after attack challenged the core group of leading climbers. But when the dust settled, Landis found himself in the Yellow Jersey, just eight seconds ahead of yesterday's breakaway Frenchman, Cyril Dessel. Congratulations to Landis! He did not attack, he did not buckle, he did not bend; he rode steadily with the leaders to the very end...and rode right into the race lead.


SECOND AMERICAN IN YELLOW THIS YEAR. Floyd Landis is the second American to wear the Maillot Jaune this year; George Hincapie wore after Stage 1. Unfortunately, George bonked the next to the last mountain today and was not among the race leaders.

DISCOVERY CHANNEL FADING? Jose Azevedo was the only Discovery Channel team member who stayed in the leading group. Azevedo finished 15th, four minutes behind Menchov. Yaroslav Popovich finished 26th, 6:25 behind the stage winner. Azevedo is now 18th overall; Popovich is 22nd in the General Classification. Hincapie is back in 40th place, more than 23 minutes down. Maybe Discovery Channel is having the same problem that T-Mobile had last year--not cooperating together to put one rider on the podium.

HOW ABOUT LEIPHEIMER! We now know that Leipheimer had diarrhea the night before the Individual Time Trial, in which he finished over six minutes behind the leaders. We now know that he is fully recovered and fully capable of continuing to contend for a podium finish. After today's second-place finish, Leipheimer sits in 13th place, 5 minutes and 39 seconds behind Landis. Can he resume his climbing prowess in next week's Alpine stages? I hope so!

GREAT TOUR PHOTOS. Scroll easily through lots of pages of really great Tour photography at Yahoo!

STAGE RESULTS. Full results of Stage 11 (and all previous stages) by Cyclingnews.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STAGE: OLN provides free video highlights and commentary wrap-ups of each stage by Bob Roll and Al Trautwig.

LISTEN TO THE TOUR LIVE. provides a link to Eurosport's live audio coverage of the Tour. Limited Internet TV viewing is also accessible at this site.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006



DESSEL MAKES HIS MARK ON THE TOUR. Cyril Dessel was the rider who put the first emphatic stamp on the Tour de France as it headed into the mountains. A Frenchman, Dessel worked with a small breakaway group for most of the stage, claimed the most mountain climbing points, then attacked the breakaway group with Juan Mercado and built up and maintained a lead of more than 9 minutes over the Peloton. Dessel finished the stage a few centimeters behind the Spaniard Mercado. Though Mercado won the stage, Dessel claimed both the Polka-dot Jersey for leading in mountain climbing points and the Yellow Jersey for the overall race lead. A Frenchman leads the Tour de France by over 3 minutes on the first mountain stage! Viva la France!

GREAT TOUR PHOTOS. Scroll easily through lots of pages of really great Tour photography at Yahoo!

STAGE RESULTS. Full results of Stage 10 (and all previous stages) by Cyclingnews.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STAGE: OLN provides free video highlights and commentary wrap-ups of each stage by Bob Roll and Al Trautwig.

LISTEN TO THE TOUR LIVE. provides a link to Eurosport's live audio coverage of the Tour.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006



CHARGE TO THE BASE OF THE MOUNTAINS. It was 170 kilometers of flatland--the perfect set-up for a bunch sprint finish. Chasing a mild breakaway, the peloton charged harder than some of the Yellow Jersey candidates would have liked. With two heart-breaking mountain stages looming on Wednesday and Thursday, the contenders might have preferred taking it slower. But challengers must be challenged, and so they were. The three were readily caught within the last 10 k and a ferocious bunch sprint ensued. Outcome: Oscar Freire barely edged Robbie McEwen. Once again, Tom Boonen was beaten; he finished fourth.


FREIRE'S SECOND STAGE WIN. This is Oscar Freire's second stage win of this year's Tour. Freire gained points on Tom Boonen, but is still in third place for the sprinting contest.

REAL RACE BEGINS TOMORROW. The Yellow Jersey standings remain the same. They could be shaken up tomorrow. In any case, the real race begins tomorrow. It's been years since there's been this much suspense about the outcome of the Tour de France. There are simply no foregone conclusions in the General Classification.

McEWEN IN CONTROL. McEwen increased his points lead over Boonen for the Green Jersey. Maybe this is one conclusion that can begin to be drawn: the Aussie is in charge of the sprint competition. It's his to lose.

FAST PACE. The pace of the peloton averaged over 47 kilometers per hour for this stage. Try that sometime...not for four hours, but for five minutes.

Monday, July 10, 2006



AFTER NINE DAYS. It's been nine days since the 2006 Tour de France started with a Prologue in Stausbourg, Germany. The 170+ riders have made their way up through Luxembourg and into the Netherlands. They've passed through Belgium and charged westward across the north of France. It's been a week that featured the sprinters. Yes, a few small categorized climbs have been crossed--but these are ant hills compared to what the cyclists will face in the next two weeks in the heights of the Pyrenees and Alps.

REST DAY REFLECTIONS. After a rather surprizing Individual Time Trial on Saturday followed by another flat stage on Sunday, it's time for a rest. Today's rest day offers a brief respite and you can imagine the riders are thinking both about the week past and the weeks ahead. A few things I'm thinking about regarding the Tour thus far:

1. The list of contenders for the Yellow Jersey in Paris is narrower than it was a week ago...but not by much. No less than 31 riders are within 4 minutes of the current leader (who is no mountain climber!). Even riders who did not fare well in the Individual Time Trial can, with a mountain-climbing breakaway, recoup their losses. Four minutes can disappear in the mountains very quickly for an opportunistic and aggressive rider. Come on, Levi Leipheimer! Take a risk! Go for it!

2. American Floyd Landis is in second place and has the opportunity to take--and keep--the Maillot Jaune in the mountains this week. Will Landis make his move on Wednesday and Thursday in the Pyrenees?

3. American David Zabriskie is in ninth place and could move into podium contention in the mountains, too.

4. Look out for Andreas Kloden of T-Mobile. The German has proven himself in the mountains in past Tours and he's well-placed at the moment.

5. I hope Robbie McEwen continues to make hay in the remaining available flat stages and bunch sprint finishes. There's a great opportunity on Tuesday's flat stage. The Australian is in the Green Jersey and only a miraculous recovery/resurgence by Tom Boonen will challenge him.

6. I hope George Hincapie recovers his heart from his mediocre ride in the ITT. I want to cheer for George and Floyd. I'm pulling for a friendly American duel in the Alps. But, George, you've got to shake off Saturday. You can do it!

Photo: The ever-present "El Diablo" encourages the riders during Sunday's Stage 8. Didi hasn't missed a Tour de France stage in many years; he's a roadside fixture. This year he's been sporting soccer balls on his horns and the banners of France and Italy on his pitchfork--in honor of the World Cup match on Sunday.

Sunday, July 09, 2006



Breakaways most often don't work. Usually the poor souls who worked hard to get to the finish line ahead of the peloton get swallowed up within a few kilometers or meters from glory...and are forgotten. Usually, you pay little attention to the escapees. Then, there are days when it works. When it comes together. When the peloton misjudges what it will take to reel in the escapees. When these guys actually win.

And, today, it was a Frenchman, to boot. Congratulations to Sylvain Calzati, who broke away from a small group that broke away from the bigger breakaway group! A stage win for a Frenchman in the Tour de France is always special. And this was Calzati's first TdF stage win. Sorry France didn't have a World Cup victory to go with Calzati's stage win...


AUSSIE BEATS BELGIAN...AGAIN. After Calzati crossed the line, and after the two remaining escapees finished 2:05 later, the first sprinter to charge across the line (a mere 6 seconds later) guessed it--Robbie McEwen. Tom Boonen, now out of yellow and vying only for the Green Jersey, was ninth. The fourth-place finish gives McEwen a commanding lead in the sprint points and keeps well in the Green Jersey. From the sound of his quoted comments after the stage, Boonen is thoroughly frustrated with his inability to win these end-of-the-stage sprints at this point in the Tour.

AMERICAN HELPS HIMSELF. David Zabriskie was part of the big breakaway group and claiming intermediate sprint points and mountain climbing points gave him enough bonus seconds to move him from tenth to ninth place in the General Classification (battle for the Yellow Jersey). As Lance Armstrong wrote..."every second counts."

GREAT TOUR PHOTOS. Scroll easily through lots of pages of really great Tour photography at Yahoo!

STAGE RESULTS. Full results of Stage 8 (and all previous stages) by Cyclingnews.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STAGE: OLN provides free video highlights and commentary wrap-ups of each stage by Bob Roll and Al Trautwig.

Saturday, July 08, 2006



If you watched, listened, or tracked it online, the Individual Time Trial was full of suprises.

Surprise...Serguei Gonchar of Ukraine won the ITT and now wears the Maillot Jaune. I did not recongize his name as a contender for this stage win, but those who know cycling well were less surprised. Gonchar is a former world time trial champion. Now the Urkrainian not only has a stage win, but the Yellow Jersey on his back for the time being.

Surprise...Floyd Landis is no fluke, no also-ran, no mere former Lance Armstrong teammate, no joke. His second-place finish in this stage confirms his intentions and capability to win this year's Tour de France.

Surprise...George Hincapie was 24th. George!? Come on, man. Help us here!

Surprise...Levi Leipheimer came in over six minutes down. His hopes for standing on the podium in Paris are in jeopardy. It will take a very surprising stage, which Levi is not known for, to get back in contention. Levi is a good climber, so he's not completely out of it. But this is not what he expected, certainly.

Surprise...T-Mobile riders showed themselves to be monsters in the time trial. Three in the top ten places. But which of them is the team leader?


BYE BYE, BOBBY. Bobby Julich crashed out today. The American once finished third in the Tour de France and was riding in strong support for his team this year. He's out with a broken wrist in a fall during the Individual Time Trial. Keep coming back, Bobby!

NO DOMINATORS. The ITT today demonstrated, if anything, that no one is dominating. It may also prove the Lemond and Armstrong strategy true: the balance of solid time trialing, mountain climbing, and team strategy will be needed to make the podium.

Friday, July 07, 2006



AUSTRALIAN THREEPEAT. Right now, no sprinter and no sprint team is able to keep Australian Robbie McEwen at bay. Even with American lead-out man Fred Rodriguez having crashed out, McEwen is getting great drafts from Geert Steegemans. That, and he's simply the fastest to the finish line out of an elite corps of sprinters. Thus far, he's won three of the five sprint finishes in the Tour de France. One gets the feeling that McEwen isn't finished. Tomorrow, fellow sprinter Tom Boonen will more than likely lose his grip on the Yellow Jersey. He'll be hungry for the Green Jersey. But it's going to take a miracle to pry the Green Jersey from the tenacious McEwen.

GREAT TOUR PHOTOS. Scroll easily through lots of pages of really great Tour photography at Yahoo!

STAGE RESULTS. Full results of Stage 6 (and all previous stages) by Cyclingnews.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STAGE: OLN provides free video highlights and commentary wrap-ups of each stage by Bob Roll.

A MOMENT OF TRUTH: Saturday's Stage 7 is an Individual Time Trial of over 70 kilometers. Experts anticipate this to be one of the initial "separators" in the Tour de France. It will likely separate the real contenders for the championship from those who just don't have the full array of skills and discipline to be the champ. Time trial was one hallmark of Greg Lemond and Lance Armstrong in their victories. Excellence in mountain climbing was another hallmark of these champions. We'll see how the likes of Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, David Zabriskie, Michael Rogers, Cadel Evans and the T-Mobile boys stand after tomorrow's stage.

Thursday, July 06, 2006



ART OF THE BUNCH SPRINT. Amazing, isn't it, that after over 200 kilometers of hard pedaling elite corps of riders can organize themselves into slip-streaming "trains," pour on the power, and charge hard to the finish line within inches of each other. Stage 5 was a classic display of the art of the bunch sprint. Victory is measured in inches, not bike lengths. To the winner goes the glory; to the rest, frustration. That's the life of a sprinter. Today it was Spaniard Oscar Freire's turn to out-sprint Tom Boonen (second place but still wearing the Yellow Jersey).


FREIRE'S WIN. This was Oscar Freire's second time to win a stage during a Tour de France; he won a Tour stage several years ago. Freire is a top sprinter and has been in the mix of all the sprint finishes in this year's Tour.

ESCAPE AND CHASE. The peloton let two "escapees" get over 10 minutes ahead of it before picking up the pace to chase the two would-be stage winners down. The two riders were caught within about five kilometeres of the finish line. That's when the sprinters started jockeying for position and organizing for an explosive charge in the last kilometer.

THE ART OF THE ESCAPE. Just as sprinting is an art, so is an escape. Riders who dare to escape off the front of the peloton in hopes of making a solo or small group dash to the end of the stage are called "escapees." The team leaders in the peloton usually will not let just any rider escape; only riders who are no real threat to alter the leadership of the race or challenge the jersies are permitted to launch an escape. Even at that, most escapes are chased down by the peloton before the end of the stage. Sprinters like to claim the big sprint points at the finish line, so they goad the peloton into a chase. That's what happened today.

GREAT TOUR PHOTOS. Scroll easily through lots of pages of really great Tour photography at Yahoo!

STAGE RESULTS. Full results of Stage 5 (and all previous stages) by Cyclingnews.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STAGE: OLN provides free video highlights and commentary wrap-ups of each stage by Bob Roll.

LOOKING TOWARD SATURDAY. Stage 6 will be another flat stage with a bunch sprint finish likely. Stage 7 on Saturday, however, will be an Individual Time Trial. Stage 7 will begin the initial separation of contenders from the rest. American Floyd Landis, for instance, has vowed to try to win this stage. I'm sure he's not alone. But it signals the importance those who are looking to be wearing Yellow in Paris are placing on Saturday's ITT.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006



A KANGAROO LEAPS AHEAD. Australian Robbie McEwen got his second Tour de France stage victory of the year, winning the stage-ending bunch sprint three bike lengths ahead of his rivals. This is the second time McEwen, dubbed "pocket rocket Robbie," has beaten world sprint champ and current Yellow Jersey wearer Tom Boonen across the finish line. I bet Boonen is getting steamed about this. He'll have another chance to best the Aussie in Stage 5 on Thursday, which is another stage set up for a sprint finish.


STAYING YELLOW. This the first day the Yellow Jersey has not changed hands, er, backs. Tom Boonen keeps it...for now.

AMERICANS BIDING TIME. No significant change in the overall standings; Americans George Hincapie (down 5 seconds) is in third and Floyd Landis (down seven seconds) is in ninth--well situated. Levi Leipheimer is well within stiking distance.

GREEN, TOO. McEwen is wearing the Green Jersey (Maillot Vert) as the sprint points leader for the second day in a row.

GREAT TOUR PHOTOS. Scroll easily through lots of pages of really great Tour photography at Yahoo!

STAGE RESULTS. Full results of Stage 4 (and all previous stages) by Cyclingnews.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STAGE: OLN provides free video highlights and commentary wrap-ups of each stage by Bob Roll.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006



BELGIAN TOM BOONEN IN YELLOW...FOR NOW. Tom Boonen didn't win the stage, but finished far enough ahead of Thor Hushovd (a few seconds) to take the overall race lead at day's end. This is the fourth lead change in four days of the Tour de France! With the top ten riders within 30 seconds of each other at this point, the lead could potentially change every day for a week.


Stage Notes just puts a little perspective and brief post-stage reflection on each day:

BELGIAN YELLOW. Tom Boonen is Belgian...and he will start Wednesday's Stage 4 in yellow in his home country. That's cool. It's the world sprint champ's first Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France.

GERMAN STAGE WINNER. The stage was won by Matthais Kessler (in the AFP/Getty photo by Sebastien Berda) of Germany. After the peloton chased down five day-long escapees in the last few kilometers, Kessler charged ahead on the last climb and flew down the steep 50 meters ahead of the pack. Instead of the expected bunch-sprint finish, Kessler crossed the line alone for his first stage win of the Tour de France.

DISCOVERY AND AMERICANS. American George Hincapie is now in third place, just 5 seconds behind Boonen. His Discovery Channel teammate Paolo Salvodelli is just 15 seconds down. American Floyd Landis is currently in 7th place, just 16 seconds down. American David Zabriske is 23 seconds down in 15th position.

RODRIGUEZ OUT. American Fred Rodriguez had a bad fall in this stage and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He's out of the race. Best wishes for a full recovery.

RACE FAVORITE OUT. The race also lost a top contender in a crash. Alejandro Valverde broke a collarbone on a downhill crash in the last quarter of the stage. Experts had givenValverde a nod as a favorite to win this year's Tour after Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, and Francisco Mancebo were withdrawn by association and implication (not by confession or conviction) in the Operacion Puerta affair. Now Valverde is gone, too.

Monday, July 03, 2006



AUSSIE EDGES BOONEN & HUSHOVD. Monday's Stage 2 marathon--over 228 km of racing--ended as most flat stages end: with a bunch sprint featuring the best of the best sprinters forcing their way at the line. This round goes to Australian Robbie McEwen. He nosed out reigning world sprint champ Tom Boonen and Prologue winner Thor Hushovd. Hushovd claims McEwen drifted maliciously into him, but race officials did not agree. McEwen dons the Green Jersey...for now.

A few notes:

Sunday, July 02, 2006



This photo by Javier Soriano captures the peloton as it lumbers toward the start of Stage 1 in Strasbourg, Germany on Sunday. Photos by excellent photographers like Sirotti, Graham Watson, and hundreds of other photo journalists serve to fill the eyes and fuel the passion and mystery that is the Tour de France. I try to give credit whenever possible. If you've tried your hand at capturing the right shot, you can appreciate what these folks can do.



HINCAPIE IN YELLOW ALREADY. It didn't take long for an American to grab the lead of the Tour de France, did it? Big George Hincapie was just .73 seconds behind Thor Hushovd (what a name!) after Saturday's brief Prologue. He gained a few bonus points (translating into a precious few seconds of time) in an intermediate sprint during Sunday's flat stage to edge ahead Hushovd in the General Classification. He will wear the Yellow Jersey, the Maillot Jaune (in French), what the American riders affectionatly call the "mellow Johnny," during Stage 2.

A BIT OF PERSPECTIVE. To keep some things in basic perspective...

FIVE CONTESTS WITHIN THE TOUR. There are five "contests" within the Tour de France:

LOOKING FORWARD. Don't expect things to be calm during the first week of the Tour de France. The Yellow Jersey may change hands several times. Sprinters will charge to the intermediate lines and finish lines in huge bunch sprints that sometimes cause huge crashes. The Tour usually loses some good riders due to serious injuries during the first week. The goal of Discovery Channel team will be to (a) not lose any riders and (b) not lose any significant time to rival contenders for the Yellow Jersey. This race is a three-week drama and the first week traditionally is for the sprint specialists - their quick acceleration abilities are a thing to behold. But the "real race" will begin in the mountain stages of weeks two and three.

YELLOW: GOOD AND BAD. For those who are flipping channels between the World Cup games and the Tour de France: a yellow card in World Cup is bad; the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France is very good. Interesting to have Germany and France in the World Cup semi-finals while the Tour de France wheels through Germany and France. The time for the Prologue in Straussburg, Germany, was adjusted in order for fans to be able to watch both on TV. You might call the Tour de France the "World Cup of cycling.

DOPERS CONVENTION. I think there should be a special Tour de Cheat for those who choose to cheat at their sport. Bring together all the banned riders and let them shoot up, use EPO, have blood transfusions galore, use exotic and risky drug protocols, and work with shadowy physicians. Put them all on a level playing field and let them go at it. Have a race just for cheaters. Have a baseball game just for dopers. See who shows up. None would. That's the nature of cheating and the sin of cheaters -- they don't want to compete, or can't compete -- on a level playing field within a legal and fair range of permissible advantages.

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