July 21, 2006

True Grit

Every once and a while there's a sports story that provides a model of character as opposed to pure ego.

Everyone counted Floyd Landis out of the Tour de France, after he outran his team and ran out of gas on a climb, falling to 11th in the overall standings. Yesterday, with renewed help from the team, Landis showed extreme courage and determination. He outran everyone over an 80-mile stretch, and may take the Tour if he can win the time trial tomorrow.

The Gray Lady reports:
Paul Sherwen, a former professional cyclist who is now a race commentator for OLN, which is televising the Tour in the United States, said that he could not recall a performance like that of Landis.

“I’ve been on the Tour for 28 years, and I’m racking my brain trying to think of something I can compare it to,” Sherwen said. “I think many people would also think of Claudio Chiappucci” — the Italian cyclist who became part of race lore largely thanks to long breakaways in the 1990 and 1992 editions of the race.

Sherwen particularly recalled Chiappucci’s performance in one long breakaway to the Italian town of Sestriere in 1992.

“But Chiappucci hadn’t lost 10 minutes the day before,” Sherwen said. “He hadn’t gone to the brink of exhaustion and he hadn’t seen himself lose the yellow jersey and go from first place to 11th.”

Now, Sherwen said, Landis’s rivals “have left the race to the time trial, and I think Landis will win the time trial.”
And the Chiraqistanis will just hate having another Yank win it after Lance's retirement. Lagniappe, that.

UPDATE: Landis came in third on the Saturday time trial, and gained enough time to recapture the lead and the probable victory in the Tour. The final leg is largely ceremonial.

No comments: