Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Who Needs Lance?

Floyd Landis had his breakout year in 2004. During that year's Tour de France, he became Lance Armstrong's top lieutenant, able to stay with only a select few of the world's best during the most difficult stages. Instead of waiting for Lance to retire, Floyd struck out on his own in 2005 as leader of the Swiss Phonak team. He was good, but never great all season, and some have wondered if it was difficult to emerge from Armstrong's shadow. No one has been better so far in 2006, though, and today he took the lead in the Paris-Nice ProTour race.

The report, from

"Floyd Landis is the man for the early part of the 2006 season. After winning the Tour of California, the American has taken a serious option on the overall classification of Paris-Nice as well. Landis broke clear on the col de Croix de Chaubouret with Spain's 'Patxi' Vila of Lampre-Fondital, who won the crucial stage of the 'race to the sun' in Saint-Etienne. Landis has now four days of racing over his favourite terrain for defending his lead.

"Phonak's team manager John Lelangue pointed out that their main concern is now that their team is reduced to six men, since Robert Hunter was too sick (sinus infection) to continue, and Aurélien Clerc didn't make the time cut. But four of the five domestiques now designated for backing Floyd also had the same job in California, so it won't take long before they react if the yellow jersey has to face some attacks in the next few days. It's unsure though whether someone will dare to try before Sunday's final stage in Nice, because Landis has already proven to be the strongest stage race contender in the world at the moment."

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