The 2006 Tour de France for Floyd Landis has been a series of ups and downs. Unlike the well-directed affairs that marked the latter years of Lance Armstrong's domination, this has been more like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.
Here's a recap of some events in Landis' Tour:
Prologue — Landis loses 8-10 seconds as he shows up late to the podium. It turns out that the team mechanic had to change a cut tire at the last minute, rather than risk having a flat on the road. (9th place — 9.26 seconds behind Thor Hushovd)
Stages 2 – 6 — Sprinters battle for stage wins and the overall leads the first week, as Landis stays between 8th and 11th place overall.
Stage 7 — Shortly before the time trial, UCI officials force Landis to change his so-called “praying mantis” riding style by lowering his handlebars. The aero handlebars break during the ride, and Landis has to change bikes, losing 20 to 30 seconds. Still, Landis finishes in 2nd place, 1 minute slower than the stage winner. (2nd place overall — 1 minute behind Serhiy Honchar)
Rest day — Landis holds a press conference to announce that he'll go for hip replacement surgery after the Tour. His hip has deteriorated after training accident years ago, causing pain when he rides. Some express amazement that he can compete at all, while others — like Discovery manager Johan Bruyneel — wonder why he has exposed his vulnerability.
Stage 10 — A breakaway into Pau puts Landis down a few notches as Cyril Dessel gets yellow jersey. (5th place — 4:45 behind Dessel)
Stage 11 — Landis joins a breakaway in the Pyrenees, finishing 3rd but picks up the yellow jersey for the first time. He says it will be difficult to defend it all the way to Paris (1st overall — 8 seconds ahead of Dessel)
Stage 13 — The Phonak team, as well as the rest of the peloton, allows Oscar Pereiro to jump from 46th place overall to 1st place, a gain of more than 28 minutes. Phonak team leaders say not to worry, it's a strategic move to let someone else protect the jersey going into the Alps. (2nd place — 1:29 behind Pereiro)
Stage 15 — The Phonak strategy seems to work, as Landis finishes in fourth place at the summit of 21 switchbacks on the climb to l'Alpe d'Huez. (1st overall — 10 seconds ahead of Pereiro)
Stage 16 — Something goes horribly wrong, as Landis completely cracks on the final climb to La Toussuire, losing 10 minutes to the stage winner. Pereiro takes over the yellow jersey. Did he bonk, dehydrate, lose support from his team? Landis just says he had a bad day. He tells the press that evening: “I don’t expect to win the Tour at this point. … but I'll keep fighting.” (11th place — 8:08 behind Pereiro)
Stage 17 — In what is described as one of the most amazing stages in Tour history, Landis launches an 80-mile attack over 4 mountain passes to put himself back in the battle for the Tour championship. His Phonak team, criticized the day before, helps propel him toward a breakaway on the first climb. Then Landis takes off on his own, splintering the breakaway and paralyzing the field. (3rd place — 30 seconds behind Pereiro)
Stage 19 — As expected, Landis overcomes the time gaps to 1st place Pereiro and 2nd place Carlos Sastre in the individual time trial. For once, everything goes smoothly. (1st place — 59 seconds over Pereiro)
Stage 20 — Landis' wild ride to Paris ends