Stage 17 of this year's Tour de France is going to show up in all of those "Best nn Tour moments in history" highlight reels. When this year's Tour is about and there is talk of the bouncing of the top contenders before the start, other contenders being taken away from the race in ambulances because of some spectacular crashes, THIS stage will also be discussed. Floyd Landis's name has gotten much bigger.
In a stage with 5 categorized climbs through the Alps, "Floyd Landis splintered the field on the day's first climb" and never stopped (quote from tdfblog.com.) The climbs were as follows:
(1) 14.9 km climb averaging 6.4 % - Category 1
(2) 5.9 km climb averaging 7.1 % - Category 2
(3) 11.8 km climb averaging 5.8 % - Category 1
(4) 5.1 km climb averaging 4.9 % - Category 3
(5) 11.7 km climb averaging 8.5 % - 'Hors' Category = "beyond category"
Eurosport calls it
"a performance that will go down as one of the greatest in the history of the Tour de France."
"an exploit worthy of Eddy Merckx."
Bob Roll says it's
"the greatest single day ride in the history of the Tour de France."
"What Floyd Landis did today is all that even if you completely ignore his ride yesterday [in which he couldn't hang with the other riders and he lost over 10 minutes to the race leader]. Throw that in, and it's just incomparable.
Landis versus 142 riders today just wasn't a fair fight; the peloton needed more guys.
"We didn't let him go, he was just so strong at the beginning and we didn't think he would make it to the end."
Carlos Sastre, CSC's GC man [the CSC team's rider going for the win] said he expected Landis to attack today:
"I saw him this morning and I thought he would attack, but he just split the peloton in thirty pieces. He went like an eagle on the first climb and against that you can't do anything."
What Landis did on the road to Morzine was unthinkable. It was astonishing and it will never be questioned as heroic. Nobody (that I've read, anyway) has mentioned of this epic ride, "Would this have happened were Basso and Ullrich in the race?" because as good as this ride was, there's no doubt in our minds that it would've happened had it needed to.
And with that ride, he brought himself close enough to the top of the heap that his time trial yesterday clinched his title as Winner of the 2006 Tour de France. Congratulations, Floyd. You made us all believers.