The U.S. national soccer team recently embarassed itself in the World Cup. During the Olympics, U.S. athletes regularly get beat in certain sports that, like soccer, are taken much more seriously in other countries than in ours.

So why have Americans done so well in the Tour de France?

American cyclists have won 10 of the past 20 TdF’s—well, two American cyclists: Greg Lemond (1986, 1989, 1990) and Lance Armstrong (1999-2005). And Floyd Landis, after a mind-blowing ride yesterday, may win this year’s. (Landis, btw, is a fascinating guy, who’s been riding with a degenerative hip; see Daniel Coyle’s recent profile and, even better, read Coyle’s book Lance Armstrong’s War.) And other American riders have been finishing very well in the TdF in recent years.

Why?

You’ll have to go to Freakonomics to find the answer!