10 Things I Love About the 2006 Tour (Alternate Title: My Hat is Delicious)

07.21.2006 | 5:20 am

Note from Fatty: Have you entered the Win a Trip to the Tour of Utah Contest? Today’s your last day! If you haven’t entered yet, click here to do it now.


To this point, I have not been exactly kind about the 2006 Tour de France. Which just goes to show: the Fat Cyclist is not about truth. It is about saying whatever happens to come into my head at the moment (which, luckily enough for the blog topic, is almost always cycling or cake).

And right now, I really like the Tour.

A lot.

No, even more than that.


Things I Like About the 2006 Tour de France

Yesterday (Tuesday), Dug and I were IM’ing. I admitted that once I got over the initial disappointment of seeing a big clash of the titans (Let’s face it, an Ullrich / Basso / Landis battle would have been something to see), I was really starting to like this Tour. Here are a few of the things / people I find myself really liking:

  1. Random Winner Generator: Here’s how to successfully choose the winner of a given stage: Generate a number between 0 and 1, then multiply by the number of racers in the field. Round the result up to the nearest integer and add 1. Map that result to the person who has that number in the GC rankings. If your random number seed is the same as the UCI’s, you now have picked the correct person to win the stage for the current day.
  2. Matthias Kessler: Before this tour, I don’t recall ever having heard of him. But this guy is strong (he’s won a stage), he’s dedicated (he’s been an exceptional and self-sacrificing lead-out guy), and he’s tough as nails. Did you see him flip over that guardrail? That would have sent me to the hospital (and it did in fact send two other riders to the hospital). Kessler just got up and rode away.
  3. Oscar Pereiro: You know, when Thomas Voeckler stumbled into the yellow jersey a couple years ago, everyone acted like it was the most wonderful thing ever. For my money, though, Pereiro is doing a lot more with a similar gift. When Landis gave Pereiro the yellow jersey with a gift of half an hour last week, you can bet that he didn’t realize how loathe Pereiro would be to give that jersey back. Did you see Pereiro ride Klöden off his wheel today? Holy smokes.
  4. Breakaway Planet: Earlier during this Tour, I made a joke about a “One Successful Breakaway per Tour” rule. How many have succeeded this Tour, though? Twenty? A thousand? In a Tour where anything can happen, people are more likely to try anything, I guess.
  5. Landis’s Massive Implosion: Before Tuesday, I thought the Tour was over, and that Floyd had it wrapped up? Who had an honest chance at closing the gap he had created? And then, on one bad climb, it was over. Landis had completely disintegrated, and I no longer had any idea who was going to win.
  6. Landis’s Gracious Post-Implosion Press Klatsch: Based on seven years of Tour watching, I had come to expect that when the leader has a bad day (or a really, really bad day), he would just disappear into his trailer and not come out until the next stage, at which point he would act all cagey and give some perfunctory, dishonest-feeling explanation of what happened. Instead, Floyd walked out, sat down, and candidly answered everyone’s questions, making no excuses whatsoever. Watch the video and you will not be able to help but like Floyd. I promise. I especially like the part where someone mumbles a question; Floyd doesn’t catch it. Instead of going to the next reporter, Floyd says, “Sorry?” as if it were his fault that the guy mumbled.

Spoiler Alert: Don’t Go Beyond This Point If You Haven’t Seen Thursday’s Stage

  1. The Most Inspiring Stage I Have Ever Seen: I used to think I’d never see anything as beautiful as Hamilton’s solo breakaway in 2003. The thing is, though, Hamilton was allowed to get away because there was no way he could ride back into contention. As far as I can tell, nobody allowed Landis anything today. He just took it. He rode up to the front of the pack of the best cyclists in the world, and he ripped their legs off. Then he rode up to the breakaway group, and he ripped their legs off. A couple guys dared to ride his wheel; they just got shot out the back. Nobody could hang with him today. It was a brute-force declaration of intent, and it left everyone in awe. Also, it left a bunch of professional cyclists flopping around, newly legless.
  2. No More Armstrong References: Up until today, Phil and Paul always seemed to talk about Floyd’s successes and failures in context of how Armstrong would have handled the situation. Armstrong would never have given Pereiro 30 minutes. Armstrong would never have blown up and ceded ten minutes. Today, though, they stopped talking about Armstrong.
  3. Landis’s Post-Race Interview: In this interview, Landis owns his horrible yesterday and lays it all on the line: He wants to win the whole thing, and he wouldn’t have been satisfied with anything else. No bet-hedging. No pretension. And he’s got a smile that he simply cannot stop.
  4. Floyd Landis’s Beard: Waaaaaay back in March, I mentioned that I would root for Landis to get on the TdF podium on the condition that he shave his beard. I now retract that condition. That beard’s starting to grow on me. In fact, I think I’ll grow one like it myself. (Note: If you take into consideration that there was no way I could predict the whole Defenestration of the Contenders (a much more appealing name for the scandal than “Operacion Puerto”), my predictions are pretty good. Landis is my top-rated pick of the people who actually started the race.).

PS: Next week is going to be big on my blog. I’ve got a giveaway that will simply knock you onto your butt.


PPS: Saturday, I’m racing the 50-mile solo event in the E-100 series. Wish me luck! 


  1. Comment by Ashbygirls | 07.21.2006 | 5:52 am

    Today was beautiful. After Floyd imploded yesterday, I found myself wistfully thinking, "maybe he’ll have a spectacular day tomorrow", but really, not actually expecting it. Before today, I vaguely wanted Floyd to win. Now I really, really want it.
    Did anyone else notice the great double take that Merckx did when Floyd caught up to him yesterday? He nearly fell off his bike. That was my second favorite moment of the tour after today’s entire stage.
    Go Floyd! And good luck tomorrow.

  2. Comment by Andrew | 07.21.2006 | 11:24 am

    The TiVo is armed and ready. The next two days should be helacious. High drama for sure.

  3. Comment by Unknown | 07.21.2006 | 11:51 am

    Floyd was incredible, an attack like in the old days (Coppi, Merx, Ocaña…).  Clearly the strongest.CSC and T-movile tactic was terrible as they made the same mistake they did with Pereiro with an even stronger rider (the strongest of the race).  They only went after him when he had 9 minutes and the peloton had over 50 people.  Both teams had plenty of riders on the group.  If they just wanted, they could have taken a couple minutes more from Floyd, and winning the tour would be almost impossible as he would be over 2 minutes behind.It was the biggest mistake I’ve seen in the last 20 years…  If you want to win the tour, you can’t let the strongest rider get 9 minutes without doing anything.Sastre must be willing to cut something from Riis as he had the oportunity of his live to win this tour.About Pereiro (29).  He finished 10 in the last two tours so he’s a really good rider.  Last year, he was incredible, going alone almost everyday (won one stage, second in another one, and the combativity price).  He’s also won things like the alps classic.  Very strong, good going up (not the best) and not that bad againts the clock.  He’s also very intelligent, very strong mentally and brave.  Also, one of the best going down (took some time from Landy’s on the way to the finnish), and you’ll agree Landy’s extremelly good going down (and up and…)

  4. Comment by regina | 07.21.2006 | 2:03 pm

    landis is king. and here your go…luck.

  5. Comment by Unknown | 07.21.2006 | 3:30 pm

    ilex: Did you ever stop to think that maybe CSC and T-Mobile not chasing Landis down wasn’t a tactical decision, but a physical one?  Judging by the time gaps over the final climb and the general malaise in the peloton, they weren’t "letting him go."  He was taking it from them.Illes Balleares worked hard and most of them cracked.  T-Mobile was looking after Kloden who was having a bad day.  CSC whipped up the pace when they could — yes, it was too late, but had they whipped it up sooner, they would have cracked sastre on the climb.Floyd went out yesterday and said "I’m the best bike rider in the world."  And he proved it.  It wasn’t due to any tactical error.

  6. Comment by quickKarl | 07.21.2006 | 4:08 pm

    I thought it was great how he took control and got back up in the top 3.
    Tomorrow he’ll finish them off.
    Hope he doesnt have a flat before TT again..
    Good luck on your ride

  7. Comment by Unknown | 07.21.2006 | 4:44 pm

    I saw the stage complete, all of it.What Floyd was incredible as some team strategy was also incredible.  He was the strongest man before his bad day and after it.  He tried and deserves wining.When they got to the Colombiere it was clear that CE-IB was unable to do anything else and peloton almost stopped on that climb (there were double riders at the top than at the bottom and the peloton was huge) Landys took about 4 minutes there.  He was going very fast, but not that much.  Then Pereiro got very angry and stoped completely.  A second later CSC started chasing very strongly (Landy had 9 minutes).  Obviously they were never going to get him, but they could have saved the tour … easily.  They didn’t have to go very fast, just not letting the peloton stop would be enough, and Sastre was obviously in great shape (Kloden did attack on the first climb).Riis said he was waiting for T-movile to chase first.  They also said they couldn’t do anything because O’grady was in front!  (does anybody thing O’grady was going to win Froyd yesterday… and they said that when Froyd was way ahead of O’Grady) Sastre was very strong and fighting for 1st with a lot of posibilities.Had they help at the Colombier (1 rider each team) and Floyd would now have a couple minutes less and Sastre would have many chances of winning the tour (he’ll probably never have another chance like this).   He or Pereiro can stil win  but chances are not very high.  Sastre has improved a lot againts the clock and is in good shape.  Pereiro is not supposed to be as good, but fitting for the yellow and with his will … it’s possible.  In any case, Floid is stronger and better so in normal circunstances he should get the tour.  As a side note.  He got a call from Merx on what he should do that morning.  (Merx’s son is in his team and his manager is Merx’s manager’s son)  He was convinced, and had the legs and will to do it.  It was also amazing how much water he was drinking.Riis has done it twice this tour (remember that when Pereiro got 30 minutes, one CSC was helping Pereiro).  With Landy, it was even worse.  Sastre won’t win this tour because of his manager.

  8. Comment by Unknown | 07.21.2006 | 6:05 pm

    there is now a new standard for the tour and it’s spelled:
    not lance.
    the tour will always be bigger than any individual
    uuuhh, don’t talk with food in your mouth.

  9. Comment by mhywan | 07.21.2006 | 7:34 pm

    Fatty:Sorry to pick on your algorithm but you have an off-by-one problem in the random winner. You have a case that will create a number that is bigger than the number of riders by 1. The answer here courtesy of the VB6 help:To produce random integers in a given range, use this formula:Int((upperbound – lowerbound + 1) * Rnd + lowerbound)I am also very amazed by this tour (except for the boring first week).  I think it is attributed to not having a clear favourite and the fear of being caught doping.  It looks like the contenders all take turn to have a bad day which seems to be less in the previous tours I watched.

  10. Comment by barry1021 | 07.21.2006 | 7:58 pm

    -He tried and deserves wining-
    I know you meant ‘winning’, ilex, but it reminds me that if you saw his post Stage 16 interview, Landis is a winner and not a whiner. As FC said, his interview was just so impressive. None of the "the air conditioning was too high/low", or "I am feeling very sickly". Mon Dieu, I just pray he doesn’t get implicated in the doping stuff–the L’equipe reporters are all probably working on that now.

  11. Comment by Unknown | 07.21.2006 | 8:49 pm

    of course he deserves wining.  Only great champions can attack like he did, specially after a terrible day.

  12. Comment by Lorraine | 07.21.2006 | 10:10 pm

    Just dropping by to say hello, and invite you to check out my blog! I lke yours, hope to hear from you!
    Paws out!!!

  13. Comment by JPSOCAL | 07.21.2006 | 11:46 pm

    To put it into perspective I always look at the results of l’Tape du Tour which rides one stage of the tour as a race. this is a group of very good riders (5,000+) who race the stage more or less. This year it was the Gap to Alpe du huez stage. The winning time in L’tape was a little over 6 hours. Frank Schleck CSC won the stage after two previous grueling weeks at 4h 52 min. The last place guy in the stage ,Oscar Freire sick as a dog, was at 5h 28 min in 152nd place 22 min better then the best guy in L’tape. These guys are simply the best bike riders in the world…..and Landis is now the best of the best win or lose the tour.

  14. Comment by Teresa | 07.22.2006 | 2:41 am

    Floyd deserves wining and dining.  Godspeed

  15. Comment by Debra | 07.23.2006 | 3:21 pm

    One of my top 10 moments happened today.  When the peleton gave Viatceslav Ekimov his due respect on first circuit of the Champs-Élysées in Paris.  What a way to end a 15 year tour career.  He even managed to work in an Olympic gold medal (2000) in time trailing during that time.Almost brought a tear to my eye.

  16. Comment by Unknown | 07.23.2006 | 11:33 pm

    Hey Fatty since you hadn’t heard of Matthias Kessler before this tour im guessing you didn’t see him in 2004 when he crashed.  It was a really horrible crash.  He broke a couple of ribs and punctured a lung.  Still finished the stage though.

  17. Comment by Unknown | 07.24.2006 | 12:51 pm

    I had picked Landis before the race started, and before Basso and Ullrich got tossed. I knew he was the man. Hoever, towards the end of the tour I was rooting for Pereiro and really wanted him to win. I always pull for the underdog. I am happy with the end- glad to see Landis win and Pereiro show incredible heart to pick up second. Hopefully they will both be back for many years. They are the types of athletes kids need as role models. They have heart, respect for each other, respect for the sport and they both seem to be really liked by all those around them. It would be great for the sport if they are the faces of cycling for the coming years. (Kessler and Voigt are not bad role models wither.)

  18. Comment by jim | 07.25.2006 | 7:32 pm

    I was very happy for Floyd.  He is truly a man of character and determination.  And the ONLY way to be a true champion like Armstrong and now Landis is to lay it on the line and give it your all, not hedging bets or using pretense.  You will NOT win unless you are determined to do so and stake your claim.  I believe this is one of the biggest problems with Team Discovery right now.  Not their level of talent but their level of confidence.  The Americans in general stunk up the tour but especially Discovery.


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