The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Friday, July 21, 2006

Stage 17

Yesterday's performance in the Alps by Floyd landis was historic. It was on the level of the greatest individual, one-day sporting achievements of all time. It was certainly the greatest single stage ride in the 100 year history of the Tour de France.

To put it in perspective, it is on a level with the Red Sox coming back from a 0 - 3 deficit to beat the Yankees, the Miracle on Ice, etc. It is as if a tennis player were down 2 sets to love, 5 games to zero, and came back to win Wimbeldon. Except, instead of it being in a sissy sport, it was accomplished by a man on a bicycle over 125 miles of excruciating hills that most people would have a hard time driving up, never mind riding up. Landis rode the last 75 miles entirely on his own and was able to hold off some of the greatest riders alive today, all of whom were riding together. (It is much easier, on straight roads and downhills, to ride in a group; by taking turns at the front of a group of riders and and then settling back into a paceline, riders are able to conserve as much as 30% of their energy compared to riding alone).

Landis and Phonak had nothing to lose. Unless they tried something radical, Landis was done. Although he is probably the best time trialer, there is no way to made up a deficit of 8 minutes in a time trial.

The question on everyone's mind is how did he pull this off? First and foremost, he simply rode like a man possessed, much harder and longer than anyone would have thought possible. But even so, how was he able to pull this off tactically?

The Phonak team started the stage at the front of the peleton (main group of riders). They set a blistering pace for the first 50 miles, wearing down all the other riders. Then, during the first brutal climb (a "beyond category" climb), Landis broke away by himself. Why did the other riders let him go? Why didn't they try to chase him down? Four reasons. First, no one thought it humanly possible to sustain a single-rider breakaway for 75 miles. Second, since Landis was so far behind, no one thought it possible that he would be able to eat into the lead by more than a couple of minutes; he needed almost 8. Third, the top five riders had each other to worry about. They couldn't attempt chasing Landis and risk burning out when they needed to preserve their energyfor the end when they would be battling each other for what they presumed would be the actual lead. Finally, the pace Landis was setting during his breakaway was so brutal that I don't think any of the riders could have kept up with him even had they tried.

So, Landis and Phonak brilliantly sized up the situation and took advantage, allowing Landis to break free. At that point, and this can't be stressed enough, Landis singlehandedly took over the Tour de France.

Landis is now only 30 seconds behind and has a very good shot at winning the yellow jersey during Saturday's time trial. Trully amazing.


  • At 2:35 PM, Blogger DovBear said…

    17? How many more tedious stages are there? Listen, I tried to get into the TdF, but there just aren't enough goals. No action. No offense. They should change the rules to allow riders to shoot each other with pistols.

  • At 6:05 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…

    Dov Bear

    You are far too intellectual for this sport. Doesn't the croquet season begin soon? You must be psyched.

  • At 9:13 PM, Blogger DovBear said…

    Mo, you enjoy the TdF, so no doubt you'll find the rest of this comment scintillating:



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