As heard on the Tour Daily podcast, José Been is taking us off the race route for some local historical and cultural context for each stage, from Denmark all the way to Paris.
After a rest day the riders get a nice, short little Alpine snack to Altiport Megève, with four categorized climbs and the final second-category ascent to the – almost – finish line. We are in France and we stay in France now for the remainder of the race. France. Oh sorry I got carried away here.
The race starts in Morzine, a famous place in the French Alps. The last winner in Morzine was Ion Izagirre after a very wet stage 20 in 2016. The start of that stage was in Megève but the profile was much harder than the stage the riders get to do on Tuesday. Simon Yates also won a stage in Morzine in the Tour de l’Avenir 2013. He sprinted for victory against his brother Adam and Alexis Gougeard.
Bauke Mollema, Nairo Quintana, Warren Barguil, Marc Soler, David Gaudu and Tadej Pogačar all won this race of the future, and are currently racing the Tour de France.
Morzine is also the place where Floyd Landis successfully rounded off a breakaway of 120 kilometers to salvage his Tour de France. It was the Tour de France of 2006. Before it even began big favorites like Ivan Basso affairs and Jan Ulrich were already eliminated due to doping. Lance had just retired for the first time.
Landis finished third and fourth in the Tour de l’Avenir when he was younger but his Grand Tour career wasn’t a splendid one until 2005 when he finished ninth overall in the last Tour de France that Lance Armstrong won but didn’t win. 2016 started well with the overall win in the Tour of California, Paris-Nice and the Tour of Georgia. The Criterium du Dauphiné wasn’t a great success with a 60th spot, but the Tour de France started well.
Landis wore the yellow jersey after 13 stages but gave it away to the Spaniard Oscar Pereiro Sio who after a mega breakaway gained almost 30 minutes on the peloton with his companions Jens Voigt, who won the stage, Sylvain Chavanel, Manuel Quinziato and Andrey Grivko . Pereiro Sio was a very unlikely yellow jersey wearer but he started day 14 as leader of the biggest bike race on the planet with a lead of 1 minute and 29 seconds on Landis.
Nothing changed in stage 14 but on day 15 – a 187-kilometre ride to Alpe d’Huez, Landis took the yellow jersey back with only 10 seconds on Pereiro by fourth finish. Landis’s nearest rivals like Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, Cadel Evans and Andreas Klöden were now all over two minutes back. Things were looking promising for the Mennonite son from Pennsylvania.
Back to stage 15. Landis beamed up on that podium in the yellow jersey and knew he was not that far off the biggest dream of his life. Two more mountain stages to go, a time trial and two flat stages.
Stage 16 finished in La Toussuire, an uphill finale after having climbed the Galibier and the Croix de Fer. It became Landis’ Waterloo. He lost 10 minutes on his rivals including Oscar Pereiro who took over the yellow jersey again. It seemed the end of it. Who is going to make up eight minutes and eight seconds in the final mountain stage of the Tour de France?
We all know what happened. Landis attacked with 120 kilometers to go. He poured a gazillion bottles of water over his head, grimaced, stood on the pedals where the gearing was way too big and won the stage and the yellow jersey to take it all the way to Paris. Dutch writer Joost Jan Kool once described that day as: it was like Flandis was robbing a bank in broad daylight without even wearing a balaclava.
On 19 May 2010 Landis confessed his doping use. Oscar Pereiro Sio is the official winner of the 2006 Tour de France despite having delivered a positive test himself that race. He cleared his name but never had that moment on the podium on the Champs-Elysées.