Stage 17 – St. Jean-de-Maurienne to Morzine, 200.5km
By Andrew Hood
Sunny to partly sunny all day, highs 30-34C
Floyd Landis (Phonak), 5h23:36, 37.176kph – Landis soloed to victory and vaulted back into contention overall in one of the most remarkable comebacks in cycling history. Less than 24 hours after tumbling out of the top 10 while bonking in the yellow jersey, the gritty Pennsylvanian refused to give up. Attacking at the base of the Col des Saises, Landis reeled in and then dropped an early break. The others left the chase too late and he soared down the Col de Joux-Plane to win his first career Tour stage, just the ninth American to win a Tour stage.
Oscar Pereiro (Caisse d’Epargne), 3,248.6km, 80h08:49, 40.529kph – The smiling Spaniard had just enough in the tank to retain the yellow jersey a day after recapturing it at La Toussuire. Team CSC’s Carlos Sastre assumed the virtual lead up the Joux-Plane, but Pereiero’s superior descending skills saved the day, taking back about 30 seconds on the 12km descent to keep the maillot jaune. Landis rocketed back into contention, moving up from 11th to third at just 30 seconds back. The podium is looking more distant for Andreas Kloden (T-Mobile) in fourth at 2:29 back.
Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) led the gruppetto across at 52:02 back to retain his comfortable lead to Oscar Freire (Rabobank), 252-207.
King of the Mountains
Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) scored the final 10 points over the Joux-Plane to cement his grip on the polka-dot jersey with 163 points. Landis rocketed into second with 131 points after scooping up 68 points on the day. With just some minor climbs in the final three stages, it looks like “Chicken” will win his second consecutive best climber’s jersey.
Best Young Rider
After chipping away at Marcus Fothen (Gerolsteiner) for several days, Damiano Cunego (Lampre) finally got the kisses from the pretty podium girls after moving into the best-young-rider jersey by just five seconds.
Rabobank was best on the day and T-Mobile regains its hold on the overall team’s classification, moving 8:41 ahead of Team CSC.
Most aggressive rider
Landis impressed the eight-member panel with his “panache.”
Wim Vansevenant (Davitamon-Lotto) retained his last place, 143rd at 3h50:56
143 riders – 2005 Giro d’Italia third overall Jose Rujano (Quick Step), DNS; Landis helper Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak), Vuelta al País Vasco winner Jose Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval) and stage 10 winner Juan Miguel Mercardo (Agritubel), DNF
Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval), Oscar Freire and Pieter Weening (both Rabobank) headaches … Christian Vande Velde (CSC), Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Jose Angel Gomez Marchante (Saunier Duval), Patrick Calcagni (Liquigas), Christophe Mengin (FDJeux) and Juan Miguel Mercardo (Agritubel) digestive problems … Sergei Gontchar (T-Mobile), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) and Pierreck Fedrigo (Bouygues Telecom) nose bleeds … Cyril Dessel (Ag2r) cuts to right leg in fall on Joux-Plane descent … Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) pain from crash in Stage 16 … Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner) breathing problems … Christophe Brandt (Davitamon-Lotto) back pain from crash in Stage 16 … Matej Mugerli (Liquigas) pain in both knees … Christian Knees (Milram) back pain
Xabier Zandio (Caisse d’Epargne), Ivan Parra (Cofidis), Laurent Lefevre and Didier Rous (both Bouygues Telecom), all fined 100 Swiss francs for not signing in … Erik Breukink (sport director Rabobank), fined 200 SF two times for illegal feeds … Julian Gorospe (sport director Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Jean-Rene Bernaudeau (Bouygues Telecom), each fined 200 SF illegal feeds
Sunny in morning, chance of showers in afternoon, highs in low 30s