Landis Wins Stage to Narrow 8-Minute Gap Melissa Block talks with cyclist Floyd Landis, leader of the Phonak team at the Tour de France. Landis won Thursday's stage that ended in Morzine, France, a day after losing the leader's yellow jersey. But with a dominant win Thursday, Landis erased much of that gap, finishing 7:30 minutes ahead of the overall leader, Spain's Oscar Pereiro.
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Landis Wins Stage to Narrow 8-Minute Gap

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Landis Wins Stage to Narrow 8-Minute Gap

Landis Wins Stage to Narrow 8-Minute Gap

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block.

At the Tour de France, an unbelievable comeback today. American cyclist Floyd Landis, who had a disastrous day yesterday and said he didn't expect to win the Tour anymore, had a sensational race today. He won today's stage in the Alps, made back most of the time he had lost and vaulted from 11th place overall to 3rd. After Landis crossed the finish line, here's how they called his victory on the Outdoor Life Network.

Unidentified Announcer: A nice show of determination. A magnificent piece of revenge. The clock has started now as Landis gets off his bike like he's about to deliver the newspaper. Floyd Landis has come down the mountain, across the Alps today, just in the style of a Hannibal of modern times.

BLOCK: Well, that Hannibal of modern times, Floyd Landis, joins us from Morzine, France. You know, I watched you cross that finish line, pump your fist in the air. What were you thinking?

Mr. FLOYD LANDIS (Bicyclist): I was thinking about my team. Yesterday was a disaster and they kept their heads up and they kept believing. And I owed it to them to do what I could do today. I didn't expect it to go quite that well, but I wanted to show them that they didn't work for nothing.

BLOCK: You know, your fellow racer Bobby Julich has called your race today the most amazing ride I have ever seen in my life. It will go down as one of the best rides of all time. Were you thinking anything like that during the course?

Mr. LANDIS: No, not at all. I had one objective and that was to show everybody that I'd keep fighting no matter what happens.

BLOCK: Well, how do you explain that you could go from yesterday being pretty much written off - one of the commentators called yours a complete collapse yesterday - then today you're out in front alone for a good part of the race. What did you do?

Mr. LANDIS: Well, today is the normal Floyd. Yesterday was a disaster. So, you can't really compare the two and say that I improved that much. I just had a very, very bad day.

BLOCK: I noticed when you were almost all the way to the finish line today, you were looking over your shoulder.

Mr. LANDIS: Well, ordinarily I have a radio communication with the car and they tell me what the time difference was, but I didn't - the radio wasn't working because of the - I was pouring so much water on myself and I didn't know how far the guys were behind me. I was just at that point trying to go as fast as I could, but I wanted to be sure that I didn't get passed in the last kilometer.

BLOCK: So, you didn't know how close they might have been.

Mr. LANDIS: No, they last time I had heard the time difference was half way up the last climb. I wasn't positive at that point.

BLOCK: There's one other thing that's got to be a factor here, which is that you're riding through what I gather is extreme pain. You have a hip joint that's disintegrating and you're going to have that hip replaced pretty soon after the Tour. How do you compensate for that as you're riding?

Mr. LANDIS: The pain level's not so high right now. I've had a couple of cortisone shots in a row inside the hip to try to prevent the swelling that is caused by using it so much. But in a few weeks when that wears off, it's going to be completely ruined. So, yeah, I'm going to have hip replacement surgery at some point in the next two months. I'm hopeful that I'll at least be as good as I am now.

BLOCK: There's still three days left of this race. Time trial coming up on Saturday, single riders racing against the clock. What's your strategy for the rest of the tour?

Mr. LANDIS: Tomorrow should be fairly uneventful. So, really the deciding day now is the time trail on Saturday, and I'm not so far behind the leaders now and it's one of my strong points. So, my chances are good now.

BLOCK: Chances are good overall, you're saying.

Mr. LANDIS: Yeah.

BLOCK: Do you let yourself think through to Paris, riding down the Champs-Élysées?

Mr. LANDIS: No, I'm trying to take one day at a time, because you never know when you're going to have a bad day and it's possible to have another one in the time trial. But I'm very happy about the way today went after yesterday.

BLOCK: Big celebration?

Mr. LANDIS: I'll have one beer, how's that?

BLOCK: One beer?

Mr. LANDIS: Well, you don't need many beers when you race that long and haven't had any for awhile.

BLOCK: Well, Floyd Landis, congratulations and best of luck with the rest of the race.

Mr. LANDIS: Thank you. I appreciate it.

BLOCK: And go have that beer.

Mr. LANDIS: Yeah. I will, don't worry.

BLOCK: Cyclist Floyd Landis, talking with us from Morzine, France. The Tour de France ends on Sunday.

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