Spent time over the past few days watching all of the 2006 Tour again, which really was an amazing race. For Kloden it was so close! For starters I think he was still battling to find his best form in the first half of the race due to a lack of riding as a result to his broken collarbone in around March/April that season. So with a better preparation in might have done 1-2 minutes better combined in the first ITT/Pyrenees.
The Alps were incredible! T-Mobile's tactics were perfect for the first two days and set Kloden up to potentially win the race, but he didn't have a great third day on the climbs, though still fought on dilligently (even ended up outclimbing guys like Evans and Menchov on the Ju-Plaix when people just think and say that he cracked). Most of the race ended up centreing around 2 stages. The Oscar Perrero gain of half an hour on the flat and the Landis gain of many minutes into Morzine. Quite simply either T-Mobile or any other team with a contender should have taken a little responsibility on that flat stage; even just shave three minutes off that breakaway and Oscar is a non factor (although he was horrible in the Pyrenees, he had been 10th before twice in the Tour, so was no mug). Morzine was more complicated. The key was the Columbierre. Caisse-depane had been forced to make the pace, and their power ran out. The peleton was crawling up that climb and Flloyd's lead ballooned from 4:30 to 8 minutes. That was the climb where other teams should have come to the front, even though they didn't know that Landis was going to be so strong on the Ju-Plaix.
T-Mobile had problems though. Kloden wasn't on a great day, and also on that climb there strong man on the flats, Ghonchar, was yo-yoing off the back. If they had ridden harder then, than Sergei would not have been around to assist the chase later on the flat, when he and CSC's Voight rode hard to bring a nine minute deficit back to about 6:15 at the beginning of the final climb. If they had rode the Collumbierre harder than Voight and Ghonchar might not have been able to help on the run in to the final climb, and as such they might have reduced the deficit by a minute less there. Still, they could have reduced Landis' advantage that he gained by at least two minutes on the Columbierre I am pretty sure. But would that have made Kloden weaker on the final climb and have him genuinely crack? In which case Carlos Sastre (even with a poor final ITT) probably would have won that Tour.
It was such a great tactical race to watch!
In top grade professional cycling (and in life) it is virtually impossible to be a major winner whilst being 100% clean (or honest). Most GC GT riders are simply doing what they love whilst playing the game.
I'm a huge Kloden fan (or a Klodist) - despite the fact that he's ridden for Telekom/T-Mobile, Astana and Radioshack
Plus I'm also a fanboy - of GT mountain stage previews from The Hitch
Contador at Fuente De - I salute you!