And I thought that today's surreal adventures were over....I'm in shock. Floyd Landis's implosion here today has turned the Tour de France upside down. He lost eight minutes. Eight. Minutes. All his top rivals -- Cadel Evans, Andreas Kloden, Carlos Sastre, and even Levi Leipheimer, who now ranks above Landis in the standings -- rode away from him on today's final climb. They looked like schoolyard bullies kicking the crap out of a teacher's pet (I mean, who doesn't love Floyd? Even the European press compliments him). The attack group's energy was palpable and ruthless, especially when word came over the race radio that Landis had cracked and was slipping further and further behind, like a man who has fallen into the ocean watching his rescue boat disappear over the horizon. Landis looked tired and hopeless, incapable of turning the pedals a single bit faster. In those moments, the yellow jersey was lifted from his back. The collective gasp that shot around this ski resort as fans watched the collapse on a jumbotron was unparalleled. It was Landis's race to lose and, more than likely, he did. I'd say Landis's chances of Tour victory are through, and that my invitation to his victory party will not be forthcoming. But too many screwy things have happened here at this Tour. He needs to recover tonight and do somethin utterly audacious tomorrow, or he will go down in Tour history as a man who had victory within reach and then let it slip away. All along he's been saying that he didn't care whether he wore yellow this week, just so long as he wears it this Sunday, at sometime around 7 pm Paris time. How he rallies tomorrow is a chance to show whether or not that was just a glib retort, or something he truly believes. Tomorrow's stage is longer than today's, with four tough ascents, and a final climb up the hors categorie Col de Joux-Plane that will make today's La Toussouire finish look like child's play. Geez, I hope he can do something (and forget making it up in the time trial, because that's just not happening). I like Floyd. He's a man of honor and integrity. Not that those qualities can or should guarantee him a victory, but I like rooting for a guy like that.
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