Landis: Tour's over for me
Former yellow jersey Floyd Landis spoke of his disappointment after losing over ten minutes on Stage 16 of the Tour, won by Michael Rasmussen. The American bonked in spectacular style on the final climb to La Toussuire and has now written off his Tour hop
A weary Landis put on a brave face as he confronted the press on Wednesday night admitting that "this is the last thing in the world I want to do right now."
Before the epic Alpine stage from Bourg d'Oisans to La Toussuire, which featured the legendary HC climbs of La Galibier and Le Croix-de-Fer, Landis was in yellow after a fine performance on Tuesday's opening stage in the Alps. But things quickly soured.
The 30-year-old denied that his jour sans was related to his painful hip on which he will be operated on the close season. An honest Landis proceeded to write off his chances of glory in Paris, while underlining his intention to keep battling.
"I don't expect to win this Tour anymore," he said. "It's never easy to get back eight minutes but I'll keep fighting till the end and try."
Pleased for Pereiro
Landis came over the finish line over ten minutes slower than Dane Rasmussen, losing time to all his close rivals. He is now outside the top-ten in the GC and over eight minutes off the pace.
The new yellow jersey, Oscar Pereiro, is a former Phonak team-mate of Landis and owes his place at the top of the standings to the generosity of the Swiss team, who let the Caisse d'Epargne rider build up a lead of almost 30 minutes on Stage 13, won by Jens Voigt.
The American had come under increasing criticism following his team's decision to consciously surrender the yellow jersey. Once he regained the overall lead on Tuesday, Landis was then criticised for not killing off his rivals when given the chance.
But Landis, who has won the Tours of Georgia and California as well as Paris-Nice this season, denied any accusations of complacency, saying: "I never assumed that the Tour was won at any time, which is why I tried to ride a conservative race. The bad day just came at the wrong time.
"I'm disappointed and I would be lying if I didn't say I wanted to forget about it. I did everything I could to be the best at this Tour and I would change what happened today, but I can't. I understand that a golden opportunity to win has gone."
Merckx shows support
Phonak's Axel Merckx, who nursed Landis up the final stages of the closing climb, was quick to express his sadness for the plight of his team-mate.
"Floyd is a good friend and so I'm very sad for him. Such bad surprises are definitely not pleasant. But it's just sport, there are more serious things in life and we're going to try and raise his morale.
"He's had a great season with Paris-Nice and his other victories... He's a big leader and a great person. We're not just going to let him drop."
video: Merckx shows support