I just called home to talk with my wife. When I told her about Floyd Landis giving up the yellow jersey (this, by the way, was not the opening topic of our discussion. I am capable of looking beyond the Tour from time to time throughout my long weeks here, engaging in warm discussion about domestic matters and getting the latest update. But then, inevitably, talk turns to the Tour, because I'm pretty much the Tour version of a Trekkie at this point), Calene paused for a minute. "I don't get it," she said, sounding as appalled as a Tour fan could be. "He did what?"Along with my wife, sports editors, and weekend sports anchors (who wouldn't know a bike race from a sled dog race) across America won't understand what happened today. Yet it was Floyd's best and smartest hope for winning the 2006 Tour de France. It was smart and it was bold, but Jehovah help him if it backfires. He'll be branded the biggest chump in Tour history. It won't backfire.Floyd, you see, gave up the yellow jersey. Voluntarily. His Phonak team rode with the stolid tempo I see more often from the elderly club cyclists who ride through my town on a Sunday morning, on their way to hog all the good tables at Starbucks (note to you guys: Lose those rearview mirrors on your sunglasses and all those couples on tandem bikes. They make you all look -- and this needs to be said -- freaking weird). It was a hot day, and the stage was 142.6 miles long. You try chasing down a breakaway when the temperature's 107 degrees and you've spent the week riding through the Pyrenees. Floyd made a selfless command decision.It makes perfect sense that Phonak would give up the jersey today," said stage winner Jens Voigt after today's stage. "Otherwise his team would have had to ride hard today, would have to ride hard tomorrow, and then they would have the mountains, where they would be too tired to compete. He knows he can get it back."Thank you, Jens Voigt, for summarizing the stage in a single sentence. Floyd Landis let the yellow jersey go, knowing that his team is exhausted. To demand that they ride at the front of the peloton, setting the pace each and every day, just so he can wear a certain yellow swatch of fabric on his back would ultimately be self-defeating. Yes, the yellow jersey must be good for Landis's ego (I mean, come on, it's the dream of every cyclist), but his teammates have to do the hard work of defending it: sprinting after breakaways in this intense Provencal heat, always riding at the front of the peloton, and pretty much suffering in the Name of Floyd. For the record, Oscar Pereiro Sio is now renting yellow this evening. He'd better sleep in it, because it may be off his back as early as tomorrow evening. More likely, he'll keep it through Monday's rest day. Landis is not a popular man with the Davitamon-Lotto team. His decision to, in the words of Robbie McEwen "stop for a piss" yesterday afternoon just after a four-man attack escaped, was an intentional act to wear down Davitamon-Lotto. They would be forced to chase down the attack so McEwen could win the sprint finish and ultimately keep his green jersey all the way to Paris. So after the race, both McEwen and his teammate (and top Landis rival), had strong words for Landis. Evans disparaged Landis for giving away the yellow jersey ("I'm not sure he gave it a way on purpose," said Evans, with the insinuation that Landis was actually weak today), and McEwen made it clear that the offense will not be forgotten. Just so you know, most cyclists are either small or of average height. Magnus Backstedt of Liquigas, however, looks like a tight end. He towers over his fellow racers. And just a note for all you dreamers out there. The idea of being a writer is something a lot of people aspire to, but that most people abandon at some point, probably because they thought they couldn't match up to Hemingway or they thought they didn't look the part. Well, I'm looking around the pressroom right now, and I'm here to tell you that writers come in all shapes and all levels of ability. I'm sure some of these men and women are great, and some are hacks. But the point is that they're doing it. The work is out there, so if you want to write, then write. Don't let anyone stomp on your dreams. If a linebacker like Magnus Backstedt can ride the Tour, you can write its history. While I'm on the subject of dreams, I should respond to the emails from those afraid-of-flying's out there hoping to make it to Paris for the final stage. By all means, go. Charge it, sell a car, mow a few lawns... whatever it takes, be there. Paris is crazed and it doesn't really represent the essence of the Tour like, say, L'Alpe D'Huez, but if you're a serious Tour fan you have to go at least once in your life. My last name has a French quality to it, and there's even a French Nobel Prize winner who shares my name. But my heritage is Irish (long story, but the last name comes from a distant relative who assumed a new identity. Pretty cool, eh?). Anyway, there's a famous Roman aqueduct known as the Pont du Gard, and today's stage passed through the Gard region of France. There's even a large local castle bearing my last name (I'm going to have to stop in one of these years and see if I'm in line for an inheritance). Anyway, the Pont du Gard has taken on a somewhat elusive quality in my life. Every time I pass through this region during the Tour, I mean to stop and give it a look, but I never have time. But this year was different. Stuck in traffic this afternoon, thinking we could spare a half-hour, Austin and I pulled the Volvo off the autoroute and followed the signs for my Pont. It's a formidable limestone stone structure, built by the Romans and spanning the lazy Rubion River. Very cool. I even bought a t-shirt. Montelimar, site of today's finish, is known as the nougat-making capital of France. Now you know. Backtracking to Beziers, where we started the day, I've been poking around and found that it was the scene of a horrific massacre in 1209. Crusaders besieged the old Roman town and slaughtered every man, woman, and child in sight. "Kill them all," a Crusader said so famously at the time. "God will recognize his own." On a lighter note (an awkward segue, but it had to be done) tomorrow's stage follows the "Route des Fruits et des Vins" -- the fruit and wine route. It's famous for vineyards and hilltop villages. The plains of Remollon and Monetier-Allemont and the hills of Theus and Valserres produce whites, roses, reds, and a sparkling wine. Needless to say, we're all looking forward to the pressroom spread. We're going to Gap tomorrow. I think we were there last year, though I have to say that all these Tour cities blend together after awhile. It marks the entry into the Alps, where we'll spend the final week of this grand drama. The stage has been set and I think it will be a phenomenal and exciting conclusion to this very unusual Tour de France. Talk to you tomorrow.