Wednesday, July 19

TdF: Stages 15-16

There is no more spectacular finish in the Tour de France than the 21-turn, 14K climb up to the top of L'Alpe d'Huez. This year it came at the end of an already demanding 187K stage that called for the beyond-category Col d'Izoard climb and the category-two Col du Lautaret climb. Needless to say, it was a bear of a day yesterday. Amazingly, though Floyd Landis was not able to win the stage, he was able to gain enough time to claim the yellow jersey.

But, his moment of glory was short-lived. Today, the race crossed the giant of the Alps, the Col du Galibier and the Col de la Croix de Fer before the finish at the ski station of La Toussuire. And it proved to be too much for Landis who lost a nearly insurmountable eight-minutes. He fell completely out of the top ten in the overall general classification.

The news was not much better for any of the other Americans, though Levi Leitheimer may have suffered the least-the Discovery team for instance, is not even among the top-ten teams on the Tour thus far. It looks as if Lance Armstrong's cohorts are having a hard time living up to his remarkable legacy:

1. Oscar Pereiro (Spain)
2. Carlos Sastre (Spain)
3. Andreas Kloden (Germany)
4. Cyril Dessel (France)
5. Cadel Evans (Australia)
6. Denis Menchov (Russia)
7. Michael Rogers (Australia)
8. Christophe Moreau (France)
9. Levi Leipheimer (USA)
10. Haimar Zubeldia (Spain)