ThePaceline.com has what I think is an excellent article from Chris Carmichael offering a possible explanation why Floyd Landis bonked on the lower slopes of La Toussuire at the end of Stage 16 of The Tour de France. Carmichael suggests that the absence of other Team Phonak riders in the lead group with Floyd Landis for most of today's climbs was the critical factor leading to Landis' lack of energy at the end of the stage. According to the article:
If Landis did indeed bonk on the final climb, it means he wasn’t consuming enough calories on the Col de la Croix de Fer and the Col du Mollard. When you’re the team leader surrounded by rivals who are looking for any opportunity to attack, you can’t drop off the back of the group to get food from your team car. Without teammates in the group who can do the short delivery runs, it can be very difficult for team leaders to get their hands on enough food.
This sort of problem only occurred to Lance Armstrong once in his seven year run as Tour de France champion: Stage 16 of the 2000 Tour de France finishing on the Col de Joux-Plane. On that stage, Armstrong lost 1 minute 37 seconds to Jan Ullrich and could have lost far more time than that if that stage had evolved as today's stage to La Toussuire did for Landis.
I believe that Team Discovery Channel was constructed from that point on to ensure that Armstrong had a teammate with him at all times during mountain stages, so that he could be supplied with food and drink at regular intervals. Although it may not have been clear that this was a critical factor in the success of Discovery over the years, it's pretty clear now. [ Registration required to read articles on ThePaceline.com. ]