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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour

France, July 6-28, 2002

2002 Tour de France rider journals

Floyd Landis

Click for larger image
Champion in the making
Photo: © Jonathan Devich

Entries

Nationality: American
Team: United States Postal Service

A strong climber and time trialist, 26 year old Landis, from Lancaster Co., PA, burst onto the road scene in 1999 in his rookie road year, wearing the Maillot Jaune and finishing third in the Tour de l'Avenir stage race, followed by 4th place in 2000. After an up and down 2001 season with Mercury, Landis has been a great addition to USPS in 2002, recently placing 2nd overall behind winner and team leader Lance Armstrong in the Dauphiné Libéré.

Prologue - July 6: Luxembourg ITT, 7km

So far, so good

Today, the day of the Tour De France prologue, was not too stressful. After we tried out the course in the morning, we went for a two hour ride back to the hotel. I had a late start at 6:05, so I had time for a nap and a nice lunch. It was pretty relaxing and when I rode, I was pleased the way my race went.

I didn’t take any risks on the course; it’s my first Tour De France and I didn’t want to have any crashes. There is a really good vibe on the team - even before the Tour. And since we’ve been here before, everybody’s riding well and we’re all happy to be here. Lance’s win really boosts our confidence, since we know we have the guy who can win it.

As for the yellow jersey, we are going to have a team meeting and discuss it, but I assume we’re not going to defend it. There are a lot of sprinters teams, and it’s almost pointless to try and keep it from start to finish.

Today I tried to look at the Tour like just another race and overlook the chaos; I know there will be no huge surprises when we are racing. Today was just 10 minutes out of an almost 100 hour race, but so far, so good.

Until next time,
Floyd

Stage 1 - July 7: Luxembourg - Luxembourg, 192.5 km

Stress City Today

Today was a hard stage, with a lot of crashes. It was really stressful but our soigneur Freddy "Fingers" Vianen told me that the mental stress is just part of the Tour De France. I'm getting used to it already, but I was happy when the stage was over! I got in a break today over the last climb. Some guys ahead of me attacked so I figured that I'd go along and see what happened.

But there were too many strong guys so Zabel's team pulled us back. I think it was hard for (Telekom) today. It was nice to be in a break...to get out of all the action of the pack.

We (USPS) expected to lose the Maillot Jaune today...there was just no sense in defending it with such a small gap on the sprinters teams. I saw the stage winner go when he attacked...it was an impressive move on such a hard finish. We were going really fast up the final climb into Luxembourg, so he must be good. Tomorrow will be a quieter day for us.

Until next time,
Floyd

Stage 2 - Monday July 8: Luxembourg - Saarbrücken (Germany), 181 km

Moving Targets

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Photo: © Sirotti

So far, the first two days, we've been lucky. Other teams have been willing to take responsibility and not just look at us, as was the case in other years, I guess.

So apart from the stress of just the level of everything being higher, it was a reasonably uneventful day today. The break wasn't anything dangerous and Lampre was willing to do a lot of work. OK, it was a hard race, but it wasn't anything out of the ordinary.

The amount of spectators on the course today was unbelievable! The majority of the time, you couldn't have even talked to the person beside you in the pack it was so loud. Once we got to Germany, there were more people than I've ever seen on a race. It was tremendous. I guess it was a big party; there were people shoulder to shoulder for 150km on both sides of the road. It was a big party, I guess. Most of the people can't even see. They are probably just out there for something to do but it was great today.

I've been seeing some other Americans on other teams.We say "hi" but it's not like other races where there's actually time to socialize. The Tour De France is stressful! Lance wants to race in the front and I want to race in the front and it's dangerous in the back, so the fact that we want to always keep it together in the front keeps the socializing down. There's not much time for that.

Once the break got away today, Lampre put there whole team on the front. I thought they might say "Whatever, it's not our problem" and ride for Rumsas, but they got on the front and rode until Zabel's team started to ride with 30km. to go because the finish was in Germany. It was great; the more days that go by that the better.

It's the strangest thing; I still can't get over the fact that the spectators are sticking their heads way out in the road. Maybe they just don't know that if they get hit, it's going to hurt! Each person wants to move their head out so they can see and when they are looking through their camera, it's worse because their depth perception is totally different and they don't know they are going to get hit. It's been like that both days now. Benoît (Joachim) hit a guy yesterday and somebody crashed in front of him. I've raced in Europe before and seen big crowds in the finish and an occasional town with a lot people but nothing like this.

Tomorrow's weather might be pretty rough; it might be a passing thunderstorm so I hope it doesn't rain all the time. That's certainly a change from today. It was hot today but not unbearable, but we haven't been riding in the heat that much. You have to be careful when it's hot. I drank about 10 bottles today; AllSport or water.

See you tomorrow,
Floyd

Stage 3 - Tuesday July 9: Metz - Reims, 174.5 km

Doin' alright

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Photo: © Sirotti

Well after today's stage, I'm not too tired! I'm doin' alright. Luckily a break got away and it wasn't anybody dangerous. Telekom wanted to get Zabel in the jersey so they rode hard today. So we avoided 3 days of work; as I understand it, we are already a step ahead of last year's Tour De France in that respect.

I guess Stuart O'Grady had some problems to day and I hope he's doing better tomorrow. Our plan on USPS is to try and win the Team Time Trial stage. We want to put as much time between us and the dangerous competition as we can. I think we have the best team and we have to beat ONCE, who has the next best team for the TTT. We'll I've gotta go since I want to some good sleep before tomorrow's tough stage, but I'll be back with a report Wednesday.

Until That Time,
Floyd

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