Stage 17: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - Morzine

Best. Ride. Ever.

AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati

AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati

Floyd Landis at a dinner full of carbs and panache last night and hit the peloton hard out of the gates -- the Tour is his to win once more. What do you do when your team is weak and you lost ten minutes yesterday? You burn them up at the start of the race to jump free from the pack then ride solo across the entire stage, watching as the top ten contenders can't figure out what to do about it. With water bottle in hand, constantly pouring water over his head and back, Landis delivered the ride of the century, winning the stage, 5:42 ahead of Sastre, 7:08 ahead of Pereiro, jumping back on the podium, and positioning himself one time trial away from victory in Paris. Landis' quote at the end of the race talking to his wife, "I wanted six."

As Landis built up a lead of over nine minutes, the top ten continued to let Caisse do all the work, even as their team whittled down to only one rider in front of Oscar Pereiro. CSC and T-Mobile finally sent their riders to the front on the penultimate climb to do some serious chasing, but they still gave Landis 6:32 at the start of the final Joux Plane climb. Voigt and Vandevelde pulled off the CSC train and Schleck pulled through to launch Sastre. From there, it was absolute chaos as Sastre raced ahead, pulling back time on Landis, while Menchov, Kloden, Pereiro, and Evans yo-yo'd back and forth further back. Moreau and Cunego managed to jump ahead, but everyone else eventually fell behind Pereiro's wheel as the yellow jersey fought hard to stay in yellow.

This is the GC after today's stage. The Stage 19 time trial will be one for the ages: 1. Oscar Pereiro Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears 80:08:49 2. Carlos Sastre Team CSC 0:11 3. Floyd Landis Phonak 0:31 4. Andreas Kl�den T-Mobile 2:29 5. Cadel Evans Davitamon-Lotto 3:08 6. Denis Menchov Rabobank 4:14


* VeloNews Stage 17 summary * Cycling News Stage 17 summary * Graham Watson Stage 17 photo gallery * Bob Martin's Stage 17 by the numbers * Floyd Landis Stage 17 interview * Dave Zabriskie Stage 17 diary

Prediction check: * My prediction: It's going to be hard for a non-GC contender to win given the GC battle that will occur today. This is Discovery's last chance to go for a stage win so they'll be in a break up front. Landis needs to recover and claw back some of those ten minutes he lost. Sastre will jump but Kl�den's charge will be hard to hold off. I'm going to say Landis if he can descend that final peak like he stole something. * Actual: all of that happened, except Kloden's charge wasn't hard to hold off, and I never thought that Landis would get over seven minutes on the yellow jersey. Striking distance of the podium? Perhaps. On the podium, wow.

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Travel + TiVo = 4:30 wakeup. Gotta watch this in 'real time.'

Prediction: It's going to be hard for a non-GC contender to win given the GC battle that will occur today. This is Discovery's last chance to go for a stage win so they'll be in a break up front. Landis needs to recover and claw back some of those ten minutes he lost. Sastre will jump but Kloden's charge will be hard to hold off. I'm going to say Landis if he can descend that final peak like he stole something.

Landis is going big, riding by himself with 118k to go. Phonak put in a big acceleration at the front and Landis was able to drop the field. He's 2:30 in front of the yellow jersey group but behind a lead break with O'Grady, Padrnos, and six other riders. How's that for panache?

Phonak didn't get any riders into that lead break, so he'll have no one to link up with -- he's going to have to win this all by himself. He's 2:50 back of the lead group, the yellow jersey is at 6:22.

Col des Aravis, Cat 2

Halgand is attacking the lead group on the second climb. Landis is on the same climb.

Today's Fly to the Finish code is saddle. How odd. I'm not sure you can actually win anything in that contest -- not nearly as much fun as Tour Mania.

Landis is jumping right through the breakaway and went straight to the front. He still has Halgand to catch. Garate is actually pulling for Landis and the rest of the break now. 6k to the summit and Luca Paolini and Auge have been dropped of the break. Tamkink and Gilbert have been broken off as well. Landis put on the breaks to go to the back of the break -- it looks like he's scouting them out.

KOM: Halgand went over first, he's about 1:20 ahead of the Landis group. Landis is still leading the break and Caisse is leading the peloton.

Landis has three riders with him on the descent. His advantage on the field is 4:26. Landis is slowly clawing back time on Halgand.

Caisse only has one teammate left to pull Pereiro. The yellow jersey group is over the top but the chase is starting to take its toll.

Col de la Combiere, Cat 1

Landis and the two remaining riders on his wheel are now catching Halgand. So now it's Landis, Halgand (CA), Sinkwitz (T-Mobile), and Righi (Lampre).

Caisse now has two riders pulling for Pereiro at the front. CSC has almost it's entire team in the yellow jersey group -- four there, O'Grady probably up the road still and one that I can't account for.

Landis does a quick bike change on the climb. His group has 5:38 on the yellow jersey. That leaves 2:30 for the yellow jersey, but more importantly, he's pretty much tied with Kloden right now, who is the one person he'd have a hard time getting big gaps on in the time trial: Sastre and Pereiro will be easier to get some time on there. Of course, Landis has to hold this advantage for another 70k, a very long distance.

Landis is dropping Halgand, with only Sinkewitz on his wheel now. 6:18, 6:24, 6:26. The gap estimates are exploding now. 6:45. Pereiro is back to only one teammate pacing -- he's going to need T-Mobile or CSC to come through. All of the teams with top ten riders need to come through in fact. 7:19, 50 more seconds to virtual yellow.

KOM: 7:37 and Landis is on the descent.

8:17. Floyd Landis is in virtual yellow.

KOM: de la Fuente dropped to pick up some KOM points on Rasmussen. No response.

Caisse has finally pulled off the front. It's now up to CSC with Voigt at the front to limit Landis' gains. It's 9:05 now.

Cote de Chatillon-Sur-Cluses

Floyd continues to empty bottle after bottle onto his back. That may give a clue to his bonking yesterday -- he may have dehydrated on stage 15 and started stage 16 with a deficit.

Vandevelde must be completely spent from yesterday but he is at the front with Voigt pushing the chase. 8:37, so they are quickly having some effect. Landis takes on two more water bottles and food as he finishes the Chatillon-Sur-Cluses climb.

T-Mobile has sent Gonchar to the front to help out. The lead is down to 8:02. With 1k to the summit for the yellow jersey group they are picking up O'Grady, so CSC will have another rider to throw to the front for a bit. CSC lead it over the top. Still at 8:02.

This is the hard part of the course now for Landis as he has to storm about 10k through the flats to the final Joux Plane HC climb. CSC has pulled the gap down to 7:32, 7:22. Kessler has come to the front for T-Mobile. Landis is through the sprint at Verchaix so it's not much further to the Joux Plane.

Col de Joux Plane, HC

Landis is finally dropping Sinkewitz as the Joux Plane starts. Behind, Kessler, Gonchar, Vandevelde, and Voigt are chasing hard. The gap is 6:32, so they have worked hard. 6:16. Pereiro is way back in the chase group as the climb starts.

Schleck is going to come through as Voigt and Vandevelde fly back. Kessler is done as well. 6:10 is the gap at the start of the climb. Boogerd has come up . Leipheimer and Hincapie have cracked.

Shleck has put in an acceleration for Sastre and has gapped the field. Pereiro is in the back of the group chasing the CSC riders. Schleck is done and it's now all Sastre. Rogers is cracking. A bunch of riders are leaving the yellow jersey group -- Evans and Moreau are jumping. Kloden is riding with the yellow jersey along with Rasmussen, all unable to follow.

Moreau is trying to bridge and Evans is trying to hold his wheel. They are reporting the time gap at 6:12 from Landis to Sastre. Sastre is racing into the yellow jersey, but Landis' time trial still tips the advantage to Landis as long as that lead stays at around 6 minutes. Landis' lead on the yellow jersey group, which has Kloden, is expanding up to 6:48.

Evans is being dropped by Moreau. Boogerd is pacing Menchov not too far behind.

Landis appears to have slowed but the climb is getting steeper. Landis is standing on the pedals now. Sastre needs another minute on Pereiro to get the yellow at the end of the stage.

Fothen is being dropped by Cunego's group, so Cunego can grab that white jersey. Cunego needs 2 minutes on Fothen.

Sastre appears to be 5:47 behind Landis. He's catching Sinkewitz.

Pereiro had been sitting on Kloden's T-Mobile train but now he's going to the front to try and prevent Sastre from getting that extra 40 seconds he needs.

Cunego has attacked the Evans group and is closing on Moreau. Cunego is now passing Moreau.

Kloden is mashing the gears to catch up to the Dessel, who was dropped off the Periero/Rasmussen group.

If Landis wins the stage, he'll get that 20 seconds plus the other 10 from the intermediate sprints.

Kloden and Dessel have caught on with Pereiro/Rasmussen.

Landis' lead: 5:32 on Sastre, 7:04 on Pereiro/Kloden. Landis should be able to descend faster than Sastre, so there is a chance with that 30 second bonus that Landis gets yellow.

Moreau is catching Cunego's wheel, so they are the second group on the road. Boogerd/Menchov are just in front of the yellow jersey group.

Landis is over the top with 5:20 on Sastre. It's 1k of flats and then the killer descent into Morzine. 7 miles, 12k to go.

Menchov has cracked as Periero and Kloden ride on through. Ras drops back to pace Menchov as Boogerd appears to be toast. Sastre has 1km to go at 5:14 off Landis. Moreau has dropped Cunego.

Sastre is at 5:07 and 6:58 as he goes over the Summit, which put him on the edge of yellow.

Landis has won the stage. Now it's time to watch the finishing clock

Dessel has crashed on the descent.

1k to go for Sastre, he should finish in about 5:30. Sastre will also gets some time bonuses on the line. About 5:41 for Sastre, so Sastre stays 20 seconds ahead of Landis, not enough for the time trial.

Moreau comes in 20 seconds behind Sastre, and now Cunego at 6:40.

Oscar Pereiro is charging in with Kloden on his wheel. Boogerd comes charging around. 7:08. Oscar Periero stays in yellow. Evans in at 7:22, and then Menchov at 7:25.

A battered Dessel comes in at

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Comments (4)

glynn:

What would Landis be doing with a team that could support him better? Amazing day, today.

Eric:

I thought the team car did quite well supporting Floyd today. He should just ride solo up at the front every stage and he'll get plenty of support. How many water bottles did he litter the side of the road with today?

Now, if we could just get that pesky "no drafting of team cars" rule done away with....

kwc:

@glynn: A ride like that means that Landis will have a good team in the future, should everything go well with hip 2.0.

@Eric: LOL. Indeed, the team car and brita filter get special uber-domestique prizes today.

kwc:

Update: 70 bottles of water

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