Floyd Landis presser, other Tour racers
Since Floyd Landis -- 2006 Tour de France winner -- remains in the news, I thought I'd share one final video montage from my tour of Tour de France. The first clip is of Landis. I managed to sneak into the press conference on July 10, 2006, at which Landis announced his planned hip replacement. This is well before his disastrous 16th stage performance and heroic comeback during the 17th stage. I never got to meet Landis while visiting the hotel where the Phonak team was staying during those stages of the race, but from what my group and I observed, he seemed down to earth and likeable. We were rooting for him to win. And, I am still rooting for him, despite allegations of doping. We all want heroes; those who defy the odds and are celebrated for their strength to endure. It would be a shame if he's found guilty. If the B sample turns out to uphold the A sample finding, I'd just like to know whether EPO or other forms of doping raise testosterone levels. It's still unclear to me from public reports what factors can raise the ratio of testosterone levels to epitestosterone. (Now, Justin Gatlin - reigning Olympic and world 100-meter champion - tested positive for high levels of testosterone. From baseball, soccer, cycling, etc., it just doesn't stop. I just hope Tiger Woods isn't next.)
OK. Enough about my view on these unfortunate sports scandals, back to the tour...
On that same day, my tour group (run by former racer Marty Jemison) also managed to meet a number of other riders there, including Michael Boogerd from the Rabobank team. Two days later, I would watch Boogerd tirelessly break wind for his teammate Denis Menchov during the 11th stage. Menchov won that stage, with Levi Leipheimer and Floyd Landis less than a second behind. I also have a shot of Phil Ligget, esteemed cycling pundit. I later would come to know about Ligget's flare for words when my riding buddies said I was a "cat amongst the pigeons," as Ligget would say. Since Marty rode the tour many times, and was twice U.S. National champion, he knew Ligget well. I also included shots of the 100 mile, Stage 9 Bordeaux to Dax day. This is the day we rode the entire stage. It wasn't so bad since it was all flat. It was a great day of riding, but I believe we averaged just over 30 kph while the Tour riders clocked in at probably 44k. Finally, the last few shots were taken during Stage 12 in Bagneres-Luchon. Here's where we meet the riders at the start of the race in the VIP tents where they prepare for the start. I'm not much of a groupie, but I played the part along with my tour riding buddies, who couldn't get enough of these guys. I have shots of me with Phonak's Axel Merckx, AG2R Prevoyance's Cyril Dessel, Discovery's Jose Luis Rubiera (aka Chechu), Saunier Duval-Prodir's David De La Fuenta (who won the king of mountain polka dot jersey), and Credit Agricole's Thor Hushovd, who's done the tour 6 times, and is a noted sprinter. Enjoy.