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Landis Is Focused on Endgame

July 16, 2006|From the Associated Press

MONTELIMAR, France — Floyd Landis is willing to gamble that his best days at the Tour de France are ahead of him.

The American gave up the race's overall lead Saturday, deciding to save his energy for next week's vital stages before the Tour reaches its finish in Paris next Sunday.

Spain's Oscar Pereiro, of Illes Balears, claimed the yellow jersey by finishing 29 minutes 57 seconds ahead of Landis and the main pack of riders in Saturday's 13th stage. Jens Voigt of Germany won the stage, finishing in the same time as Pereiro.

"I don't think we need to keep the jersey every single day, and I'm happy to see Pereiro get the jersey," said Landis, who was a teammate of Pereiro's on Phonak. "He's an ex-teammate of mine, and he looked happy."

Landis slipped to second overall, 1:29 behind the Spaniard. Pereiro understood the logic of his former teammate's strategy.

"I don't consider it a gift, but for them it's an advantage now to see someone else have to work to control the race," Pereiro said.

For years, the strategy of many Tour favorites has been to allow other riders to temporarily take the jersey, then reclaim it in the time trials and grueling mountain stages of the last week. The tactic lessens the pressure on teams to protect their leader and ride hard at the front. It was often a rule of thumb for Lance Armstrong en route to his record seven Tour victories.

Landis said that letting Pereiro take the yellow jersey amounted to a gamble, but he wanted to let his squad concentrate on supporting him in the Alps starting Tuesday, after a rest day Monday.

Voigt, riding for Team CSC, won the hot and dry stage from Beziers to Montelimar after he and Pereiro were among a group of five riders that broke away early from the main pack.

The huge gap of nearly 30 minutes between the two leaders and most riders wasn't far from the record 35:54 differential between a breakaway group and the pack in a 2001 Tour stage. At 143 miles, Saturday's stage was the Tour's longest this year, and the main pack seemed content to let the breakaway riders go.




* Stage: The 13th stage, the longest of the Tour this year, was a hot and mostly flat 143-mile ride through vineyards and rocky hills of southeastern France from Beziers to Montelimar.

* Winner: Germany's Jens Voigt of Team CSC in 5 hours 24 minutes 36 seconds. Oscar Pereiro, a Spaniard on Illes Balears, was second with the same time. France's Sylvain Chavanel of Cofidis was third, 40 seconds behind.

* Yellow jersey: Pereiro took the overall leader's yellow jersey from American Floyd Landis of Phonak.


Jens Voigt, Germany: 5:24:36

Oscar Pereiro, Spain: 5:24:36

Sylvain Chavanel, France: :40 behind

Manuel Quinziato, Italy: :40 behind

Andriy Grivko, Ukraine: 6:24 behind


1. Pereiro, Spain: 59:50:34

2. Floyd Landis, United States: 1:29 behind

3. Cyril Dessel, France: 1:37 behind

4. Denis Menchov, Russia: 2:30 behind

5. Cadel Evans, Australia: 2:46 behind

Source: Associated Press

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