So now that news of Landis' drug test and suspicion has hit all the mainstream media (NBC even dragged Greg Lemond out onto the Today Show), everybody seems to be pretty quick to condemn and blame his Stage 17 win on drugs. I'm not saying Landis wasn't doping. I'll wait until the results of the second test and for the results of the investigation to decide if he was or wasn't. What I'm saying is that the people who are so quick to credit drugs and doping for his Stage 17 comeback are wrong. Everyone seems to be forgetting one thing that contributed hugely to Landis' stage win:
The peleton let Landis go.
All of the GC contenders made the colossal mistake of underestimating his ability to recover from bonking in Stage 16 and didn't take his attack seriously. So they let him go out on his attack, and by the time they decided he was coming back into contention, it was too late. The peleton was too far back to catch up. You can bet if Landis was somewhere in the top 6 or 7 instead of 11th after Stage 16, the GC contenders would have counter-attacked and not let Landis get as much of a lead as he did. It was still the ride of his life, but he probably wouldn't have gained as much time back if the GC contenders took him seriously. Landis even told everybody he was going to attack that day.
After all, it's hardly the first time anyone has attacked the peleton early and rode pretty much the entire stage in the lead and won. It happens at least once each year. Look at what Rasmussen did in Stage 16. He lead for virtually the entire stage to win.
Anybody who's ever bonked out on the road will tell you it's hardly fatal. Drag yourself home, plenty of fluids, lots of food, lots of rest and the next day you're pretty much right as rain. That's exactly what Landis did, coupled with the ability to recover quickly. Being able to recover quickly is inherent in anybody who rides The Tour. You can't survive The Tour without that ability. The ones that recover quickest after each stage are the ones that become GC contenders. The ones that don't or can't end up dropping out or get get eliminated.
That's just my 2 cents.