Monday, July 17, 2006

le Tour--Landis needs surgery!

American maillot jaune contender Floyd Landis, who snapped his hip in an idiotic training accident a couple of years ago (slipped on gravel), dealt with ongoing rumors by confirming at a press conference yesterday that he’s got progressive bone death in his hip stemming from the accident, his injured femur is now one inch shorter than the other, he’s riding in constant high level pain, and has to have the hip replaced entirely after the Tour! He’s got high hopes about returning to the pro peloton after his hip replacement, but apparently no top-level rider has tried to do anything like this yet so no one knows what will happen.

If he can’t return, this is a major whack to American cycling! He’s only 30, with a couple of peak Grand Tour years left in him, and without Floyd, there’s a gap in US Euro-based cycling with most of the other top Americans either older/on the tail end of their careers (Horner, Julich, Hincapie, Leipheimer), or still too young and inexperienced to be at that level the next couple of seasons (Discovery’s Tommy Danielson, recent crash victim/brain injured but recovering well Saul Raisin). Floyd took two American stage races this year plus the highly presitigious European classic Paris-Nice. That he could do this, much less ride the Tour, much less be a GC contender, with this kind of injury is amazing, even considering cyclists’ legendary capacity for riding through pain beyond the standard Tour-stage agony (Petacchi finishing a Giro stage with a cracked knee, Tyler riding a grand Tour with a busted collarbone).

Poor Floyd (and his upcoming contract negotiations—I guess Discovery won’t be helping his bidding price by going back after him til this shakes out)! And props to him for not whining—he’s had a couple of surgeries and kept his mouth shut for a year. He’s the man!

Today—a sprint stage where depressed dreamboat pinup boy Tom Boonen will hopefully get his game back. Tomorrow, on to the mountains, and the real Tour begins!

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