Stage 19: Le Creusot - Montceau-les-Mines ITT

Gonchar wins the stage, but Landis won what mattered. Floyd Landis will become the third American to win the Tour de France. America will be lucky enough to see the eighth straight year of Tour victories. It's a comeback that surpasses Lemond's. While Lemond also won a yellow jersey with an unexpected -- fastest ever -- time trial victory, Lemond didn't lose 10 minutes to fall from 1st to 11th, outrace the entire peloton the next day to claw his way back into third, and then race into first on the final time trial.

As unwanted as Landis' collapse was for him, the comeback got him a stage victory he probably never would have had and mucho 'panache' credit. What would have been a conservative, well-defended, but ultimately doping-overshadowed victory instead has become the most memorable Tour of this century.

There were other battles on the road today. Cunego put in an unexpectedly great time trial to defend the white jersey, Kloden clawed his way onto the podium while passing Evans on the road, Pereiro put in a strong 4th place finish to earn respect for his podium spot, and Sastre fell off the podium as he couldn't change the fact that he is a climber.

Prediction check: * My prediction: Zabriskie (though it will probably be Landis) * Actual: Gonchar, in a repeat of the first time trial, with Landis second and Zabriskie three minutes behind

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Prediction: Yesterday, I predicted Zabriskie for the time trial, though I know that Landis is a much better pick. Given the start order, I already know my Zabriskie pick is wrong. Zabriskie's presence in the breakaway made me know my pick would be wrong, but there is hope in a pick as well.

Gonchar has the best time on the day, beating Zabriskie by 3:35. Gonchar's time is a similar pace to his victory and will be a tough mark to beat. Lang is currently second, 3:18 back of Gonchar, Zabriskie is third.

Fothen and Cunego have started the first battle on the day: the white jersey. Cunego is currently topping Fothen at the time checks, but we'll see if he went out too strong.

Menchov on the course. Evans on the course. Evans could leapfrog Kloden and possibly Sastre, we shall see.

And finally, Landis!

Sastre and Pereiro on road now. I expect Pereiro to do much better than his first TT, but I still expect Landis to gap him.

Vandevelde came in with the 13th best so far

Cunego continues to trounce this course, 3rd fastest at the second check -- Fothen is still losing time to him. Note that Zabriskie didn't even show up in the top five rankings the first checks, so you can make up a lot of time on the second half.

Phonak's time checks have Landis 35 seconds on Sastre. Kloden is having an awesome time on the course, going through second on the first time check, just 10 seconds off of Gonchar's pace. Levi isn't having a great time trial, 23rd through the second check. Evans was 11th through the first check.

Hincapie put in a fairly insignificant performance today. According to CyclingNews, "I went flat out but once I saw I was behind at the intermediate time check, I backed down and saved the little energy I had left."

Landis has gone through first at the first time check! One second faster than Gonchar. We have to wait a couple minutes, but he may already have the yellow jersey by the first time check -- Sastre is 1:05 slower at the first check. Pereiro is only 10 seconds slower than Landis at the first check.

Fothen came across in 8th best. Still awaiting Cunego, but it doesn't seem like Cunego will have lost the white jersey. Cunego has finished 6th best and will the white jersey in Paris.

OLN is estimating that Landis is passing Pereiro in the overall now at the 34k point.

Evans came in fifth best at the check, he won't be leapfrogging Kloden. Sastre is now racing to hold off Kloden.

Landis has slowed at the second time check, he's second but now 30 seconds behind Gonchar.

Pereiro is 57 seconds behind Landis at the second check.

Kloden is passing Evans on the road. Evans as a carrot will help Kloden's time. This is a three-minute gap that Kloden closed.

Menchov came in 13th best

Kloden has passed Evans, but he drafted a bit. Kloden finished second best on the day so far. That should put him on the podium in third as Sastre is having his expected slow time trial.

Landis' time has already passed Gonchar's, but he comes in third place 1:11 behind Gonchar, more than enough to take the yellow jersey.

19th place for Sastre, he's off the podium.

Pereiro comes in 4th place with a terrific ride that keeps him in 2nd place. It would have been strange to have Pereiro win the overall, given that his placing is due to a 30-minute gift, but his defense

related articles: Tour de France 2006
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