Floyd Landis, and America’s One Man’s Victory

Monday, July 24, 2006
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It’s amazing that this man won the Tour de France. Riding for Phonak, Landis did the near-impossible. He won the Tour in spite of a need for a hip replacement, likely keeping him away from next year’s Tour. Remarkably, “on the following day’s Stage 17, Landis stunned the cycling world with a 120 km solo breakaway attack that has been called “one of the most epic days of cycling ever seen.”[4] At the point where he surged ahead, he was climbing a 10% grade at 36 km/h (approximately 22 mph), a speed none could match.” Unbelievable that was.

One thing bothers me about the press brouhaha. No, unlike within the nationalist, flag-waving fervor of soccer, America did not win the Tour de France. But this is what I am hearing. Floyd Landis – one man, one American, on a Swiss team – did. You see, in cycling, you ride for a team that you contract with – any team, including foreign teams. Team Phonak, by the way, is from Switzerland. Individual cyclists are just that – and they contract with their international team of choice, and ride for themselves, with the support of their teammates when (and if) they are the chosen “leader” of the team. After all, very few men have the caliber to win in cycling, so those who do are put on a pedestal. Those who don’t have the winning potential find that riding in support of their best teammate is a far better and more pleasant alternative than working 9-5.

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