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An interview with the maillot jaune, Floyd Landis, July 18, 2006

Conservatism pays off

Floyd Landis (Phonak) regained the maillot jaune with a solid, but by no means swashbuckling ride to finish fourth on L'Alpe d'Huez. Landis stayed with Andreas Klöden for much of the climb, catching some of the early breakaways to end just 1'10 behind winner Fränk Schleck. And while it was a conservative ride, Landis believes that it is the best way to win the Tour de France. Brecht Decaluwé reports for Cyclingnews.

Floyd Landis (Phonak)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Q: How did you find your climb on Alpe d'Huez, and why did you attack suddenly after staying on the wheel of Klöden for so long?

FL: The first reason was that I was alone in the group of favourites, so the first kilometres went pretty hard. Another reason for my attack was that I wanted to get to Axel Merckx, who was a marking point for me. It surprised me to see that he was still there during the final climb. I didn't attack Klöden earlier, because my main goal today was to stay with him.

Q: You don't seem to be suffering during the climbs, how far are you away from you red zone? Where are you in your range?

FL: I'm a pretty good actor! (laughs) I'll let you know when I am at the red line, but I felt good today. It wasn't necessary to take more time on the other guys, I was just content to follow Klöden. During the next two stages, I'll be riding conservatively again. I don't feel the need to win any of those stages; I'll try to win a stage, but if it doesn't work out that way … I just want to save the energy of my team. Today, everybody saw that my team is stronger than some people hoped.

Q: You won valuable time on Menchov and Evans. Did you expect them to drop away?

FL: I didn't know how they would be. Klöden had a little bit of a bad day after one hard day in the Pyrenees, but I expected him to be good today. I've never written him off completely. I can't do so with the others guys either. Things change quickly, so I hope that I'm saved from a bad day myself. I'm happy that I could take some time on those guys. I'll be happy if I can keep getting time, here and there, on each rider. That would make things easier for me.

Landis and Klöden
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Q: There were quite a lot of critics after your team gave away the yellow jersey. What are your thoughts about that?

FL: I don't care at all about what people thought about it. I think it was a wise thing to do. If you understand how cycling works, you don't comment on that. From now on, I would like to keep the jersey. I can't figure a reason why we would give it away now. But if that scenario arises, it's still a possibility to give it away, but it seems unlikely.

Q: The last few years we've gotten used to GC riders winning stages. Are you going to feel any regret if you don't win a stage during this Tour?

FL: Cycling racing is a tactical game and to my way of thinking I would like to save my team as much as possible. Straight after the last day, I would like my team to go home feeling good, if that is possible. So, with that in mind, I'll do whatever I can to race conservatively. Most of the times that means other riders are winning stages. I'm proud of what my team's done today, and on what I've done. Whether I win a stage or not, if I can win the Tour I will be happy.

Q: The next two stages prove to be very hard again. What do you expect from those stages.

FL: Both days are very difficult. Tomorrow has a lot more climbs before the final climb (La Toussuire). Even though the last climb isn't that steep, it will be difficult. The next day, the Col de Joux-Plane has a fast downhill straight down to the finish in Morzine. I don't see any riders regrouping after that climb as I think the gaps wont be tight at the top. Maybe a few guys can come back, but the situation wont change much after the mountain top finish. The next two days will be equally decisive, but we have to think one day at the time. But again, I'm going to ride conservatively to save the team.

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