Thursday, July 28, 2005

Of Bikes and Bombs

Looks like the recent terrorist attacks in London have renewed interest in the bicycle as a form of transportation. Glad to see there's some good news, bittersweet as it may be, that comes out of this mess the pundits call the "new world order." Read on.

Bicycle sales have soared in London as commuters prepare for a return to work in the wake of last week's terrorist attack on the transport network.

The four bombs on three Underground trains and one bus killed at least 49 people and wounded 700.

Some 20 people remain missing.

Grant Young, the owner of Condor Bikes in West London, said he sold 50 bikes on Friday compared with the normal 15.

"It was just one person after another coming in out of desperation," he said.

Evans Cycles, the biggest independent bike chain in Britain, sold 400 bikes at its nine outlets in central London last Thursday - four times more than normal.

Director Mark Smith said they had another good day on Friday.

"Now they don't feel safe on public transport so I expect over the next few weeks more people will be trying out bikes," he said.

Mike Blackburn, from independent dealer Onyourbike, said his shop sold more than 17 bikes during Thursday's rush compared with the daily average of about three.

Prior to the attacks bike riding in Britain has been growing at an annual rate of 20-25 per cent.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Final Floyd Update

Time to close the book on Floyd's first Tour as a contender. He ended up finishing 9th overall. Not too shabby. See the report from below, which also includes his take on the Floyd vs. Lance media-generated feud. Sounds like he plans to ride the Vuelta in September, which he led for several days last year. Hopefully he can sustain his good form. Stay tuned for further updates.

After he completed his fourth Grande Boucle yesterday, Floyd Landis explained to Cyclingnews that he was happy with his race, as he ended up 9th overall at 12'44 from Lance Armstrong. "I was happy with my final time trial on Saturday, based on all the energy I spent trying to stay in the front during the Tour. And I'm pretty satisfied with where I finished. Being in the top ten was an objective before the Tour, and looking back on the way things went, I'm happy with it. I think I did everything I had to and I learned some things and I'll go from here. I had some good days and some not so good days, but no terrible days."

As for his supposed conflict with Lance Armstrong, Floyd wanted to clarify things: "I think my comments from L'Equipe [about Armstrong being more about business than friendship] were taken out of context or misunderstood...first of all, I just want to thank Lance and Johan and the team for everything they did for me. That's it."

Landis didn't take offense at Armstrong's comments that even though he would not be racing any more, his Discovery Channel team would still ride against Floyd. "It's the same feeling in the peloton. We're all impressed with what he's accomplished winning seven Tours. I was there for three of them and it seemed miraculous. How he could do it seven times is beyond me! He deserves it and congratulations to him. That's what everyone wants to say to Lance."

We asked Landis what's next for him in the 2005 season and the Phonak rider told us, "I'm going back to California for a while to rest and recover after the Tour. I'm happy about that. In September, I think I'll do the Vuelta (a EspaƱa) again. I like the race a lot and it's less stressful than the Tour; not the racing part, but the rest of it."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Floyd and Lance

An update on yesterday's post. Here's the full text of the controversy-generating words of Floyd that were quoted in L'Equipe a few days back.

"I will always remember the 2003 Tour, it was the only time that people thought he could lose. Everyone around him was concerned, even us, his team-mates. But the most surprising thing was that he didn't show anything. I will always remember that he directed the other riders around like the boss of a company. For him, the race was business and he was the boss.

In some teams they often talk about their friendship, but in a team like that with someone who behaves as if he really is the boss, I don't think you can go that far in talking about friendship. In everyday life it's hard to be friends with your boss. I don't believe that Lance has ever had that kind of friendship with any of his team-mates, even with George Hincapie, whom he has known since he was 17. Friendship can't exist when you give orders and direct others. It's not necessarily a negative thing. It's by acting in this way that Lance has been able to win the Tour so often."

That doesn't sound too inappropriate to me, but I guess it depends on how you interpret it. The media, at least, seem to want to make a big deal about it, but I suppose that's what the media does. Here's what had to say in its report of yesterday's stage.

"Despite the fact that reducing their deficit to the break actually limited the day's gains in the team classification [the team GC is determined by the combined times of a team's three best riders on each stage - ed.], Discovery blasted down the descent and into Revel. Popovych had over six minutes advantage in the best young rider standings and so this appeared not to be the driving motivation. Perhaps Discovery wanted to distance Floyd Landis, who had angered Armstrong by comments he made in an interview with L'Equipe earlier this week. If so, that goal was certainly achieved. Landis and Evans finished in a small group 0'20 down, with Vinokourov consequently overtaking them and moving up from ninth to seventh overall.

In his post-race comments, however, Armstrong did not allude to any desire to turn the screws on his former teammate. Instead, he said that attack was the best form of defence, and once he realised that he had two teammates with him, he said that Discovery kept the pace high to prevent any further attacks from T-Mobile. This was despite the fact that Ullrich is six minutes behind him on GC, Discovery was actually hurting its chances in the teams classification by reducing the gap to the 17 riders in front, and Popovych sprinted at full gas for 18th place, which could only have been for the purposes of gaining time."

James has suggested that recent disciplinary actions of the FGBC are "junior-high." I wonder what he might have to say about all this. Maybe someone from FGBC should help Floyd liberate one of Lance's yellow jerseys.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Floyd Slipping

In each of the last three stages, Floyd has lost a little ground. On stage 15, an ill-timed mechanical problem on the final climb added more time to that which was already lost to Armstrong, Basso, and others. On stage 16, a big breakaway launched Cadel Evans ahead of Floyd in the GC. And today, he got caught out on a Cat 3 climb 7 km from the finish as Ullrich and Vinokourov attacked, losing 20 seconds to that group and seeing Vino move ahead of him in the GC. So he now sits in 9th overall, 4 seconds back of Evans and 15 behind Vinokourov. 7th place still might be within reach if he rides a good time trial on Saturday, but anything more than that is looking less and less likely.

Floyd has also received some coverage for recent comments he made on Armstrong. He might not be able to beat Lance in a bike race, but at least Floyd is not an ass-kisser like so many others. See below for more, courtesy of timesonline:

As the race left the high mountains, Armstrong continued what is expected to become a lengthy victory parade. As he descended the hairpins of the Col de Marie-Blanque, he even took the time to enter into animated discussion with Floyd Landis, his former team-mate, who now rides with Phonak.

Landis is among those who will perhaps breathe a sigh of relief once his former captain retires. “For him, racing is a business,” Landis said, referring to his spell with Armstrong and the Discovery team. “In cycling teams, people often talk of friendship, but in that team, with someone who really acts as the boss, that doesn’t go very far.

“I don’t think Lance has that relationship with any of his team-mates, even George Hincapie, who he’s known since he was 17. Friendships can’t exist when you give orders and lead others. That’s how Lance has been able to win so many Tours de France.”

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Floyd Hanging Tough

The tough mountain stages are all done and while Floyd was unable to hang with the big guns--Armstrong, Basso and, a little less emphatically Ullrich--he's still showing that he's one of the top riders around. Yesterday he stayed around until the very end, before dropping back by about a minute behind Armstrong and Basso to finish 6th. Today's stage was murderous--with 4 Cat 1 climbs before an uphill finish on the unratable Pla-d'Adet. Not even Ullrich could stick with Armstrong and Basso today, while Floyd finished in 19th place about 4:30 behind. He now sits in 7th place overall at 9:33 behiond Armstrong. 7th place in the TdF is not too shabby. Hopefully he can put in a strong showing on Saturday's time trial and hold that position or maybe even move up a spot or two. As for now, it seems like everyone's waiting until next year to see what it's like to race the Tour without some guy named Lance.

Monday, July 11, 2005


After a few medium days of climbing, the road really kicks up to the sky tomorrow. The first day in the Alps features an always thrilling mountain-top finish. This means plenty of attacks and likely some big time gaps. Floyd is still hanging tough, and is doing as well as anybody not named Lance.

Feel free to drop by the TdF headquarters to watch tomorrow's stage. Coverage starts at 7:30 am and should end sometime between 9:00 and 10:00.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Floyd at the Tour

An impromptu FGBC event of sorts took place this morning, as several of us gathered at the TdF headquarters to cheer on Floyd in the team time trial this morning. There may be more such gatherings in days to come. Stay posted. Things did not go so well for Floyd today, nor for Dave Zabriskie, who lost the yellow jersey in dramatic fashion after he crashed hard just over 1 km from the finish. Floyd is now 1.50 back of Armstrong, but could still be in the hunt for a top 5 finish.

Two Floyd related items of note:

(1) Floyd continues to impress with his musical sensibilities. Check out his current playlist for pre-race warmups on the trainer:

Creedence Clearwater
Guns N’Roses
Doobie Brothers
Van Halen
Rolling Stones
Willie Nelson
Kid Rock
The Who
Van Morrison
The Police
Meat Loaf
and U2.

(2) A brief profile of Floyd courtesy of, with an interesting understanding of what is entailed by being Mennonite.

The Unusual Story of Floyd Landis

By Ian Melvin
Jul 5, 2005, 07:21

Last year Floyd Landis helped Lance Armstrong win the 2004 Tour de France. His athletic qualities are as well known among riders as his coarse comments. Nevertheless, the American is not as relaxed going into this year's Tour de France as it may appear.

Floyd Landis has learned a lot from Lance Armstrong, who is going for his seventh Tour de France win this year. "He's done a lot for everyone on his team and for the sport of cycling. We were able to learn while being part of his team and now have a chance to establish ourselves. At Phonak - as with my previous employer - we work at a top level. Only here, there's not so much pressure. Lance Armstrong always had just one goal: victory."

Happy being able to share responsibility
Although it's a dream for him to kick off the 2005 Tour de France in his current position, Floyd Landis nervously approached the start of the year's biggest cycling race. It's not just all the travel and the stress associated with it. It's also the new role of entering the race as one of the team leaders that is making Landis slightly insecure. The American has no doubt about the quality of the team, but still he's happy being able to share the responsibility with teammates Santiago Botero and Oscar Pereiro. In the past he helped Armstrong conquer mountains. Now, is he looking forward to the support of his teammates in the mountains? "I hope they'll pull me along," he replies with a hearty laugh.

From mountain bike to road racing
Floyd Landis's story is the most unusual of the nine Tour de France riders on the Phonak team. He grew up with Mennonites and first used a bike for going fishing. But with the arrival of testosterone, fishing became irrelevant. As a 17-year-old teenager, Landis began racing together with his high school friends. "My friend had a mountain bike, and of course I wanted to try it out." In 1991, he won his first race in Brickerville. After that, he knew that he wanted to become a professional rider. Six years after his first off-road race, Landis switched to road racing. Today, he only rides a mountain bike in winter for pleasure. "Road races are more exciting."

A very normal family life
Today, Landis lives together with his wife, Amber, and his eight-year-old daughter, Ryan, in Spain. "It's nice. That way we have more or less a normal family life." Surely something about his upbringing has stuck with Landis. "But I wouldn't want to live like that any more." Occasionally, Ryan watches her father race on TV. But not all the time: "That's too boring."