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Tour de France - More than Just a Cycle in the Park
The Tour De France is not only the most famous cycle race in the world, but one of the best known and most gruelling races of any kind. This year marked the 93rd race, running for 23 days across 20 different stages making a total race distance of 3,657 kilometres across France before finally finishing in Paris at the Champs-Elysees on Sunday 23rd July.

Starting in Strasbourg the race managed to cross most of France, with 9 flat, 4 medium mountain, 5 mountain and 2 individual time trial stages, before reaching its climactic conclusion in Paris: the Tour De France is a truly punishing event.

This year British sports fans who took a flight to France in order to see the race were met with one of the most exciting events for many years including plenty of controversy, an unforgettable race, and a free three hour long 10,000 seat concert in Landes.

Even before the race started there was excitement and controversy with a series of pre-tour doping scandals which lead to the withdrawal of the two favourites, Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso of the T-Mobile and CSC teams. The retirement of Armstrong meant another leading player was out of the running. While many worried that this would lead to a lack lustre event, the reality was one of the most enthralling, unpredictable and closely fought Tours in recent memory.

The eventual winner, Floyd Landis, produced an amazing performance especially in light of being in pain the entire time and needing to undergo hip replacement surgery due to advanced osteoarthritis. Despite walking with a limp and being unable to cross his right leg over his left, causing him to have to get on his bike by putting his right leg over first, Landis managed to keep his condition secret from fellow riders until a week into the start of the Tour. Whether he will be able to cycle professionally again in the future will be determined by the results of this operation.

The announcement that following his win, was that Landis has now tested positive for elevated levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, has lead to his suspension pending the results of his B sample analysis.

A statement by The Phonak team read that they where, "notified on Wednesday by the UCI of an unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone ratio in the test made on Floyd Landis after stage 17 of the Tour de France". They also stated that, "The team management and the rider were both totally surprised of this physiological result."

Phonak have already announced that if the second sample confirms the positive test, Landis will be sacked. Race authorities have since tried to contact Floyd directly as well as through his agent and the team, however there has so far been no response and the rider has subsequently disappeared.
About the Author
Author of the article is Andrew Regan. For further information check a flight to France.
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