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  Rest Day Updates and Observations July 17, 2006  

pixelHere are the GC standings for the American riders as of this date. Floyd Landis 2nd @1:29, Levi Leipheimer 15th @7:08, Christian Vandevelde 29th @ 14:58, George Hincapie 38th @ 24:28, David Zabriskie 78th @51:59 and Chris Horner 110th @1:12:28.
pixelOnly Floyd Landis is living up to his billing. Levi Leipheimer has ridden an even race after a disastrous time trial and digging himself a hole that's almost impossible to climb out of. The others are also-rans at this point.
pixelThe green jersey competition has no Americans competing; here are the top 5:
Robbie McEwen 252, Tom Boonen 222, Oscar Freire 207, Daniele Bennati 192, and Erik Zabel 172.
pixelMcEwen looks like a winner but it's Freire who can turn things upside down with a high placing in a mountain finish. A stage win is worth 35 points and it goes down irregularly from there but 10th place is worth 16 points and 25th is worth 1. If Freire has a couple of good Alpine finishes he can make up a lot of ground. McEwen will get no points and neither will Boonen.
pixelThe white jersey is for best rider under 25 and no Americans are in it: Marcus Fothen 1st Damiano Cunego 2nd @ 12:15 and Matthieu Sprick 3rd @29:07. Fothen is also 12th overall which is a very decent showing and he'll be heralded as a rising star if he continues to ride as well all the way to Paris.
pixelThe team GC competition top 3 are: CSC 1st, Illes Balear 2nd @15:57, T-Mobile 3rd @22:09
pixelThe interesting thing about the GC team competition is nobody cares until they are out of contention for the overall win and even then it's no big whoop. Trying to put a man on the top step of the podium pretty much excludes a team from winning the team title too. Riders sacrifice themselves for their leader and don't worry about lost time except to come in under the time limit.
pixelBut in a typically American mindset Christian Vandevelde is now charged up to have his depleted CSC team take home that prize. He was buoyed by his 3rd place finish yesterday and finishing first in something is the American way.
pixelActually it would be nice if some life were breathed into this competition and teams paid more attention. Most teams ride themselves out of it and the winning team is almost always an accident of circumstance.
pixelLast year T-Mobile won it masquerading as a team. Disjointed, disorganized, egocentric and talented athletes put on an act worthy of Larry Moe and Curley obstructing each other at every opportunity trying to beat each other to the line. It cost Ullrich any slim chance to beat Lance and relegated him to 3rd when 2nd was his rightful place. Who cares about that except they get the team trophy which seems a bit ironic.
pixelBecause the race is subject to wild anomalies when the unexpected happens and makes a rule impractical it poses a problem. On every stage there's a time limit and any rider that doesn't come in under it is out of the race. It's rigidly enforced on individual riders but on stage 13 Pereiro won by 29:57 and put 152 riders just outside the limit. No problem, they just changed the standard from 9% to 10%.
pixelStage 13 was indeed strange. Landis and Pereiro are friends and were teammates last year. It's not a stretch to believe Landis gave him his moment of great glory once he realized who was out there. That and no other teams were interested in working hard enough to reduce the time gap on a brutally long and hot stage.
pixelIt's pure serendipity when the best possible outcome for both sees Landis loaning his friend his prized possession to wear in front of the world because it's a heavy load and he knows he'll get it back. Landis is talking like the patron of the peleton when he says if he can't get it back he doesn't deserve it. Now if Frodo had that attitude about the ring maybe the books wouldn't have been so long.
pixelTomorrow is the first Alpine stage ending with about a 9 mile above category climb up Alpe D'Huez. It's a legendary climb and one all pure climbers aspire to winning. Don't be surprised to see a new name pop up. Landis just has to finish with the men who are close to him. He took minutes out of Pereiro in the Pyrenees and expects to do so again.


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