LANDIS BOUNCES BACK INTO CONTENTION
Another crazy stage at the Tour de France and more dramatic changes in the overall standings.
After losing eight minutes yesterday, Floyd Landis (Phonak) bounced back, attacking alone 125km from the finish in Morzine, to win the stage and pull back almost six minutes on all his rivals. Yesterday his Tour seemed over, now he is again favourite to win the Tour in Paris on Sunday.
The tough American finished 5-42 ahead of Carlos Sastre (CSC) and 5-58 ahead of Christophe Moreau (Ag2r) in Morzine, shaking his fist in anger and pride as he celebrated winning his first ever stage at the Tour de France.
Race leader Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d'Epargne) seemed in trouble on the Col de la Joux Plane when Sastre attacked. However he hung on and finished seventh at 7-08 and so just hung on to the yellow jersey. Sastre is now second overall at 12 seconds with Landis third at 30 seconds.
This Tour will only be decided in Saturday's final 57km time trial but Landis is confident he can now win it.
"Yesterday was a disaster and I was very, very disappointed. I didn’t have my team work for me for three weeks to get off after one bad day, so I decided to gave it a shot,” he said with a smile.
“Having a bad wasn’t something I could control but I wanted to prove to my team that I deserved to be the leader of the team. I thought they (his rivals) might be a bit disorganised and so I attacked and so it happened…”
“There’s only one decisive stage to go and I’m fairly confident in my time trial ability but I may have suffered today and so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
David Millar (Saunier Duval) finished 60th in Morzine at 43-44, while Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis) was 124th in the big gruppetto that finished 52-02 down. Millar is 61st overall at 2-00-20 and Wiggins is 129th at 3-19-19. With the Alps over, both should now make it to Paris and may even be thinking about riding well in Saturday's time trial.
Friday's 197km 18th stage is from Morzine to Macon and will give Landis ans his rivals time to recover before Saturday's decisive time trial.
1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 200.5km in 5.23.36
2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 5.42
3 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 5.58
4 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 6.40
5 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 7.08
6 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
7 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears
8 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile
9 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
10 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 7.20
General classification after stage 17
1 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 80.08.49
2 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 0.12
3 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 0.30
4 Andreas Klöden (Ger) T-Mobile 2.29
5 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 3.08
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 4.14
7 Cyril Dessel (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 4.24
8 Christophe Moreau (Fra) AG2R-Prevoyance 5.45
9 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 8.16
10 Michael Rogers (Aus) T-Mobile 12.13