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Musette du Jour: The Showdown!

So now I'm in Spokane for the state time trial championships. My start time is disturbingly late in the morning (daytime high @ 100), but if there's OLN somewhere, I might actually be able to watch the clinching of the Tour, by whomever, live. That'd be a first time this chaotic week, but thanks to many others it hasn't mattered to anyone but me. And the people who have to listen to me complain.

Stage 18 came and went this morning in a flurry of dazed and funny commentary (below) -- just the perfect palate cleanser after the intensity of Floyd's Day that we needed. No need really, then, to review the details of Matteo Tossato's victory, is there? If you haven't moved on yet, check out his chat with CN.

Tomorrow's Race of Truth promises to bring the Cycling world to a standstill for a good 90 minutes, from Floyd's departure to Pereiro's arrival. Which makes me wonder... why is nobody writing about it? [Confession: in my frantic way this week I've mostly been pillaging the same 7-8 sites; enterprising types like yourselves could probably unearth more...]

Anyway, the downlow: 57 km, a net downhill course with what looks like small rolling hills, enough to disadvantage the biggest guys, but that's about it. Maybe there really isn't anything more to say, the situation really just speaks for itself. Ask Coach Carmichael for any more analysis.

Some links, looking back, on the flip:

  • Oscar Pereiro isn't suffering in silence. My favorite bit from him: Blame CSC! Now I remember why I liked him so much. Scroll down the second link: Cosmo sneaks onto the podium for the Eurosport caption contest!

Lastly, some quote roundups, from CN:


"Tonight, we will have another look to the course of tomorrow. We will take a closer look at the most difficult passages and roundabouts. We will do that thoroughly with our two coaches this evening. Tomorrow morning, we will do it another time with Floyd Landis. We will start with confidence and I can already say that whatever happens we have had a good Tour. It's time to turn the six months of training efforts around into results. Those days in the [wind tunnel in the] USA are days that come up in our mind now. They give us confidence in the position, the material... we'll concentrate on that to do a good time trial. We don't feel pressure. Yesterday evening, we didn't talk about the time trial of tomorrow. Today, we just had a good recovery stage.... [On talking to Merckx] He called us again yesterday evening and also this morning, just like my father did. It's good to feel that those experienced guys gave us the advice that not everything was lost. They tried to keep us motivated after a disastrous stage at La Toussuire. My father and Eddy Merckx often inform me and really try hard to motivate the whole team. While having dinner in the hotel at Toussuire, we decided that we would attack the next day."

And the start line Gaggle:

Polkadot jersey wearer ~:> nodded. "It wasn't really up to us to chase Landis, as we're not the ones who have the Tour favourite," he said. "But there are definitely some other teams that made a huge tactical error yesterday - those who had their riders placed second and third on GC."

"When Floyd went, I just thought 'what the hell is he doing?'," Cadel Evans said. "It tactically didn't seem like a sensible thing to do, but I didn't know he had the legs like that... nobody did! He went so fast from the start, he rode the whole peloton off his wheels! Nobody could follow."

"I just thought that he must have had a motor hidden somewhere!" Patrik Sinkewitz said. "Usually, when you're on somebody's wheel, you can spare some energy - but I just couldn't yesterday. I was constantly in the red. The other riders couldn't follow him, either. He was just extremely fast."

What about the peloton, shouldn't it not have let him go? "Well, that's not what happened," he continued. "The teams behind didn't go soft, either - they knew of the danger Landis represented, and rode hard. But he was just a class stronger yesterday, nobody could hold him back!"

Even if T-Mobile and CSC had started to really chase earlier, wouldn't Landis have been caught? "Maybe they would have raced the first climb faster, but then there wouldn't have been any riders left to hold that pace afterwards," explained Sinkewitz. "That wouldn't have made a difference."

Chris Horner agreed. "It was epic!," he summed it up. "It was just legendary. Everybody was chasing yesterday. People have said 'T-Mobile should have worked sooner' - but no one could have worked any sooner! We were going as fast as we possibly could! And if we would have been any faster on the climb, there would have been no T-Mobile guys left!

"The only place T-Mobile could have done any work is when they did: through the valley, when they made up some time on Floyd. That was the only place you could go fast. The T-Mobile guys were stuffed just like anyone else. The pace the Caisse d'Epargnes set up in the climb was the fastest we could go."

Horner did evoke one last eventuality to counter Landis' move, but discarded it right away: "One possibility would have been for the Top 10 GC guys to all work together at a 100 percent, and that's it," he said. "But that has never happened in the Tour, and it's never happened in any other race I've done before - and it never will. It was an epic scenario, which I've never seen in my entire career!"