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Americans celebrate Landis's victory

July 24, 2006 12:32 IST
Americans celebrated Floyd Landis's Tour de France triumph on Sunday as early-rising Californians offered lusty cheers over breakfast and his former Pennsylvania neighbours ate cake in his honour.

"This is history," highway patrol officer Ernie Sanchez said by telephone from Landis's adopted hometown of Murrieta, California, where dozens of families watched on television the final stage of his improbable ride to success.

"We have become so used to Lance Armstrong. He spoiled us (by winning) for seven years and Floyd has continued that legacy," Sanchez, 36, a long-time rider and manager for the i.e. Bikes racing team in the southern California town, told Reuters.

"But I think after Floyd the next American (potential Tour winner) is several places behind," said Sanchez, noting Landis faces hip replacement surgery later this year.

"I think we are in a waiting game before we see this happen again," Sanchez said.

Chants of "It's incredible!" and "17, 17!" echoed through a local dentist's conference room each time the yellow-shirted party-goers caught sight of 30-year-old Landis on television.

The latter was a reference to Landis's remarkable ride on stage 17.

Humiliated after a disastrous 16th stage in which he dropped from first to 11th place, Landis rebounded

the next day with a stunning stage that put him back on course for victory.


"That was one of the most glorious moments in sports," said Vicki Barringer, whose family owns a Murrieta cycling store.

"If anybody ever had a doubt about themselves, all they had to do was look at him and know the impossible can be done."

"His ride on Thursday was epic," Armstrong said in a statement. "He showed a champion's resolve."

In eastern Pennsylvania where Landis grew up, yellow flowers dotted his parents' yard in honour of the victory.

"The Glory of Young Men Is Their Strength," said a marquee sign in the yard in Farmersville, Pennsylvania.

"Way to Pedal Floyd!" someone had added.

Friends and family were to gather at a neighbour's house later on Sunday to sample a big white cake that Landis's mother, Arlene, had made for the occasion.

Many had been in church during Landis's ride on the Champs-Elysees in Paris and would see the conclusion of his three-week journey for the first time during a replay on a neighbour's television.

"He has worked so hard for this," said his mother as she anxiously awaited a telephone call from her son, one of six children.

Gene Cherry
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