Floyd Landis is a worthy champion for the 2006
Tour de France. He put it on the line in the critical stage 17 and emphatically
won the tour when his rivals failed to react. After his hypoglycaemic
destruction on the stage 16 climb of La Toussuire, his will to win was there
for all to see.

He then confirmed his ascent to the maillot
jaune in the stage 19 timetrial, the contre la montre known colloquially
as the “race of truth”. The
contenders underestimated the anger and fight within the man who left home and
a sheltered Mennonite upbringing at 18 years old. Now he’s the winner of the
world’s most prestigious bike race.

No rider put his stamp on the race like
Landis and no other deserved the win. He rode like he was acutely aware his
career is in jeopardy from avascular necrosis, with hip replacement surgery
booked in for the next month.

Of the Aussies, Cadel Evans finished fifth
overall, matching Phil Anderson’s Australian record, yet he would have
conflicting sentiments about the result. Landis was on a different level this
year. There must be a legitimate doubt Evans can win la Grande Boucle in the future, but the podium is within his
ability. In his defence, he was not blessed with the greatest team support and
at 28 time is on his side.

Robbie McEwen won the maillot vert, the
green jersey points competition for the sprinters, and finished second on the Champs Elysees stage after
misjudging the finish. This is his third maillot vert, and after winning three
stages he was undoubtedly the most dominant sprinter, not just of the Tour de
France, but of the season until now.

Denmark’s Michael Rassmussen won the maillot pois, the polka dot climbers’
jersey and justified his ascetic lifestyle which consists of a diet exclusively
of rice cakes and soy milk.

Michael Rogers finished in tenth place
overall, a fine finish considering his work as a domestique for his T-Mobile
team leader Andreas Kloden who finished on the podium. Phil Anderson’s prodigy
Simon Gerrans rode a relatively anonymous tour, but did some very valuable work
for his team, which will not go unrecognised by his sportive directeurs.

Peter Fray

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