When Landis attacked in a daring, I-dare-you-suckas-to-follow-me move with more than 75 miles remaining in the race, [Tour leader] Pereiro and the rest of the field stayed put. After watching Landis crack yesterday, the man in the yellow jersey and the rest of the leading bunch of Landis' rivals treated the solo breakaway like a kamikaze. They probably imagined that a few miles up the road they'd be passing a green and yellow fireball blowing up on an otherwise idyllic road in the Alps. The explosion never came and Landis propelled himself to a smooth landing at Victory International Airport. It was an epic, heroic ride that will surely be remembered for perpetuity as one of the fiercest and most commanding in Tour history.
Landis' victory Thursday was a miracle ride, the most exciting Tour stage — hell, the most amazing bike race — I’ve ever witnessed. There hasn’t been a solo move like this in decades.
Nothing like this has ever happened in the modern era. With up-to-the-second coverage on live television in the team directors’ cars, and radio communication with riders, big moves like this have never been allowed to develop. They're shut down the instant they’re threatening.
But on Thursday, Floyd made the most amazing solo ride of the modern Tour, eclipsing even Greg LeMond’s incredible final time trial in 1989, when he eked out an eight-second lead over Laurent Fignon, making up almost two minutes and setting the record for the closest Tour de France ever.
Floyd’s ride was epic, in every way. On the final climbing day, a harrowing course profile of five climbs and treacherous technical descents, he was simply unstoppable. He didn’t receive a lick of help from anyone in the field. To a man, they simply sat on his wheel and wilted as he left them behind, spent.
And, despite all of this excitement (and not to mention the recent drug scandal, too), the Tour's TV ratings are way down, especially in the US and Germany.
The steepest decline was in the United States, with average viewing down by 52 percent in the home country of the now retired Armstrong, a Texan who triumphed in the race seven times, but also achieved mythic status with his victory over cancer.
In Germany, which lost its hometown star Jan Ullrich at the outset of the race because of a doping scandal in Spain, viewing plunged by 43 percent with about 1.5 million people watching each stage compared to 2.7 million last year, according to Initiative Futures Worldwide, a London-based media buying agency that tracks sports ratings in 50 countries and advises firms about advertising and sponsorships.
It's funny how everyone loves a star, but not the game.