Lazarus in dreamland

FLOYD LANDIS came back from the dead to emerge from the huge shadow cast by his now retired compatriot, Lance Armstrong. The American Phonak team rider entered the Champs-Elysees on Sunday afternoon, to take his first-ever Tour. However, things had not always looked so rosy over the previous six days.

The week began with a stage win for Luxemburg’s Frank Schleck in the climb up the legendary Alpe d’Huez. Landis finished fourth to reclaim the yellow jersey from Oscar Pereiro, but, on Wednesday, disaster struck for the American.

As the peloton began its final 15km climb to La Toussuire, the race leader ran out of steam, trailing 23 places and over 10 minutes behind Mickael Rasmussen. Such are the mathematics of modern cycling, that Landis dropped to 11th in the overall standings, now a massive 8.08 minutes behind main rivals Pereiro and Carlos Sastres – a blow that should have realistically ended any hopes of Paris glory. But, Landis is not an ordinary mortal. He climbed back into the saddle the following day, producing an extraordinary solo effort to win in Morzine, and close the gap on Pereiro to 30 seconds ahead of Saturday’s crucial time trial at Le Creusot. A third place there, earning a 59 second cushion back at the top of the leaderboard, virtually sealed victory, and completed one of the most remarkable comebacks in Tour history.

Opening stage winner, Thor Hushovd, crossed the line ahead of overall sprint champion, Robbie McEwan, in the shadow of the Eifel Tower, but at the end of 3,656 gruelling kilometres, Floyd Landis became the new king of France under the Arc de Triomphe.