Thursday, September 01, 2005


At km 138 of today's stage, upon reaching the feed zone, Floyd decided it was time for some beer and a Big Mac--or at least something a bit more substantial than the goo that normally passes for food in these events. And so he got off his bike and quit the race. Phonak's website provides the following explanation: "American Floyd Landis withdrew from the tour today due to reasons of morale." Interesting how they feel the need to point out that he's American, as if to distance themselves (they're a Swiss based team) from such a questionable excuse. Morale? Sure, he lasted longer than anyone in the FGBC would have (though Vic with those new pedals and cleats?), but clearly something wasn't right with Floyd over the last few days. He went into the race with high hopes, despite a crash in training two days before the start of the race. Apparently, yesterday's disaster was due to an ill-timed mechanical at the base of a climb, so maybe it wasn't the legs. Losing 8 minutes in a relatively easy stage has got to be demoralizing. In any case, it wouldn't be altogether surprising if he would end up wearing different colours next season. Wherever he ends up, let's hope he's given the opportunity to be a team leader, as his performance in the Tdf this year definitely demonstrated that he's capable of a high finish.

Floyd's former teammate, Roberto Heras, winner of the last two editions of the Vuelta, rocketed into the golden jersey in today's first mountain stage. He simply left the peloton in tatters, dropping riders one by one, before eventually winning by 0.13 over Denis Menchov. Francisco Mancebo who, like the Living Legends, finished in 3rd place last year, put in a respectable showing, finishing 0.49 back, and 1.20 in the GC. Mancebo is one of my favourite riders because of the sheer torture it looks like he's suffering through as he pushes his bike up those hills. He's definitely a contender, as are Menchov (2nd at 0.06) and Carlos Sastre (3rd at 1.01). Michael Barry finished 4.53 back and now sits at 6.45 overall. His teammate, Tom Danielson, billed by some as the next great American hope, couldn't quite hang in there with the big guns today. He finished 1.40 behind Heras and now sits in 11th place at 1.57, despite being ahead of Heras going into the stage.

Still lots of excitement to come. For some reason, the Vuelta alwas ends up being a dramatic and hotly contested race. In the last few years, the GC hasn't been decided until the last stage or two. Heras is a climber, pure and simple, and so will lose some time, and and most likely the lead, in the long time trial coming up Sunday. With another 39 km TT on the last day, things could very easily remain up in the air until the very end once again. Too bad the Canadian version of OLN doesn't broadcast this. Will have to get working on a satellite TV hookup for the clubhouse.

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