American Floyd Landis, left, received the most votes in the “New Tour de France Poll” launched Friday after Le Tour's two top contenders were suspended from bicycle racing.
The leader of the Phonak team received 33% of the votes, followed closely by fellow American George Hincapie who was favored by 28% of those voting. Another US cyclist, Levi Leipheimer, tied Spain's Alejandro Valverde with 9% of the vote.
Those of you who favor Landis, a 30-year-old Pennsylvania native, must have been shocked Saturday morning when he didn't appear on the platform for his scheduled start of the prologue. He lost 6 to 8 seconds by showing up late.
Landis, who started racing as a mountain biker, is well-known as a former US Postal Service team member who rode alongside Lance Armstrong. He joined the Phonak team, where he was thrust into the leadership position after the doping scandal involving Tyler Hamilton.
After finishing 9th in last year's Tour, Landis won the Tour of California, Tour de Georgia and Paris-Nice bike races this year.
Hincapie missed taking the yellow jersey in Saturday's Tour prologue by less than a second. That makes him the “leader du jour” for the Discovery team, which is taking a wait-and-see attitude before choosing an Armstrong successor to rally around.
Rounding out the poll finishers, another Discovery cyclist, Yaroslav Popovych, received 7% of the votes. He was named Best Young Rider at last year's Tour de France. Spain's Iban Mayo received 1 vote.
The original Tour de France Poll, taken at the conclusion of the Giro d'Italia in May, judged Ivan Basso to be the most popular choice at 59%, followed by Jan Ullrich at 14% of the votes. Basso and Ullrich were among the 13 racers suspended from the roster on Friday.
I wish to thank everyone who participated in the poll, in spite of the short notice.