Today American Floyd Landis gave the world one of the greatest individual cycling performances of all time. [Update: perhaps the most infamous ride of all time. Sigh.]
Landis, among the initial favorites to win the Tour de France, seemingly fell from contention yesterday when he "bonked" and lost over ten minutes to his rivals. But today Landis more than rebounded. Singlehandedly, he rode away from everyone and took back all that time (all but 31 seconds). With one time trial stage remaining, Landis must now be considered the Tour de France favorite once again.
Such over-the-top displays of individual athleticism are rare in the Tour de France, where winners typically succeed only thanks to behind-the-scenes sacrifice by their teammates. During last year's Tour de France, I said of cycling that "few Americans appreciate the team dynamics and strategy that are the heart of what road racing is about." It's a sport sophisticated enough to inspire 21st century innovations in the mathematics of game theory.
Nothing was remotely subtle, sophisticated, or behind-the-scenes about Landis's strategy today.
BTW, did I mention that Landis has a degenerative hip disorder and is due for joint replacement as soon as the Tour is over? (Reported last week by NY Times Magazine.)
[Update 2: Can anyone confirm the rumor that Blogger.com is going to start testing "Blog of the Day" winners for unnaturally high levels of caffeine?]
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