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Tour de France

July 2007

Rob Klingensmith: Aftermath

Posted by ActiveTdF Jul 27, 2007

!http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg!I left my bike on the front porch of my rented apartment outside of Lourdes and drove into Pau for the start of today’s stage. Admittedly, after learning of Rasmussen’s ejection late last night, I lacked my usual enthusiasm for immersing myself in the Tour. But, I needed a day to rest my legs and buy some souvenirs, and I was a bit curious to see how the ASO would deal with the latest scandal.

 

I arrived in Pau behind the train station, an area that is usually the underbelly of a city. Today, however, it was open industrial space had been transformed into the staging area for the Tour’s caravan. The brightly colored floats and vans were helter-skelter, their drivers smoking and chatting, waiting for their call to action.

 

A few hundred meters away, the official start village was operating in prime time, with no apparent worry of drug tests or scandals. Behind its 8-foot chain-link fence, the VIPs-of-the-day were nibbling on snacks, collecting sponsor freebies and enjoying the stares of those not so lucky to have a yellow credential hanging around their necks.

 

About an hour before the stage start, the space-age team buses lumbered in, followed closely by their garishly branded station wagons bristling with bikes and wheels. As the managers unloaded gear, athletes lazily stepped from the buses and waved to the crowd. Some posed for pictures or granted interviews, as others rode in groups of twos and threes to sign-in for today’s stage.

 

The appearance of the cyclists was a great equalizer, as VIPs and general public alike pushed and shoved and craned their necks to get a glimpse of the stars. Wow, do we cycling fans have short memories...

 

There was some speculation that the entire Team Rabobank had withdrawn in shame, as Team Cofidis had done the day before, but their orange-and-blue-clad cyclists were seen rolling in. My heart skipped a beat when I thought that Team Discovery was absent–-what controversy could have rocked them?–-but it turned out that they had merely parked their bus in a different area.

 

I’ve been to many start villages, but this one seemed flat. Everything looked normal but that bit of zing. With the Alps and Pyrenees behind them, the athletes had to be tired, and all that remained was a time trial to finalize the GC. But I wonder if they were also angry and depressed about their sport being, once again, undermined by scandal.

 

But this was the Tour de France, an event much greater than its athletes or teams. Locals call it a “French thing,” but I think cycling fans worldwide understand the sentiment. So, before returning to my flat for a suddenly inspired afternoon ride, I patiently waited in line for overpriced souvenirs that I’ll wear proudly back home.

 

Do you have a Team Astana jersey in size large?

Rob

 

Rob Klingensmith is an avid recreational cyclist and an executive at Active.com. Rob will provide a unique perspective on what it's like to be inside some of the most decisive stages of the Tour.

1,495 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, 2007_tour_de_france, rob_klingensmith

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!...and we need it now! I will not talk about Rasmussen this evening as everything has been said and written a hundred times. However, I think it’s time for me to share with you some very important facts.

 

First of all, it’s pretty obvious but there is an extreme tension on the Tour. All the riders are acting as if everything is normal. They go to press conferences, attend all the meetings planned and all that, but you can see in their eyes that the pressure is getting a bit too high for them. They are even a bit scared of this whole scandal...scared of what you will ask. These guys are passionate and they are scared for their sport. It’s that simple. I wish you could see the thousands of people along the road today who kept on cheering all the riders from the start to the finish line. The Tour is not dead and won’t die. That’s my feeling. The Tour is too big to die and one day it will be the place of a new start, a new cycling.

 

However, don’t expect me to say a cleaner cycling. Why? Because with 250 blood tests since the beginning of the Tour and only two of them positive, this sport is clean. There will always be cheaters. Always.

 

But what about soccer? Last year for the World Cup, do you how many blood tests they made? Well, it’s pretty simple: none. They didn’t process a single blood test. It’s pretty easy for the FIFA to say that soccer is clean.

 

I’m telling you if we were applying all the rules and tests that you in cycling to any other sports, you would see lots of athletes differently.

 

So, the first question that comes to my mind when I picture that is, why does the media talk about only drugs in cycling? Cycling doesn’t generate as much business as the NBA or the NFL, for example. Cycling is not just one hour like a basketball game. Cycling is not easy to understand if you don’t have an expert eye. So what do you “market," what do you talk about to get some audience and attention? Drugs and doping work!

 

THe media is just searching for the sensational news, the scoop as you say. Shall we let the media rule this sport and decide what is important or should we help them understand what makes cycling great?

 

I would go for the second option, if you don’t mind. Remember early this week: the Astana trick to cut the peloton in two parts, all these echappées and all that? This is what we need to spend time on.

 

Finally, I would like to end with a very positive fact. Riders and all the people who are involved in professional cycling shouldn’t be scared of stopping doping and drug-taking. If they ride from 45 kilometers per hour to 42 kilometers per hour, we won’t care at all. There is no global timing involved in cycling. A 100-meter sprinter doesn’t have that chance because if his times go from 10 seconds to 13 seconds, everybody will start asking: "What the hell is wrong with this guy? He was running way better last year." But in cycling, we won’t even notice. We won’t care because cycling should be and will be one day above all these dirty, useless things.

 

So enjoy the show because it’s not over!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events , an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

1,347 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Rasmussen!

 

I honestly think that the Tour is over and that Rasmussen is going to wear the yellow jersey in Paris. However, the end of the race will be tough for him. People along the road today were whistling at him and telling him things I won’t translate here. It is really like no one wants to see him win anymore with all these drug-taking problems.

 

The atmosphere is more than tense, it is really bad. Everybody is tired of all these problems and they all pretty much want to be at the end already. It’s really sad for cycling but we only get what we deserve as we hear around here.

 

So, today’s stage wasn’t amazing at all. I was expecting a strong stage from the Discovery team to boost Contador but it never happened. Contador wasn’t as fine as he was two days ago. And I guess also that all these talks and issues are disturbing the athletes anyway. I guess this is why the race was a bit disappointing today.

 

Today another rider got controlled positive for testosterone--Moreni from the Cofidis team. Testosterone...when you think about it, how can we still try to use these products? I don’t know what the riders were thinking about before this Tour. If they did think...

 

So, the only thing we can tell about today is that the Tour is over and the jerseys are pretty much settled. Boonen will get the green and Rasmussen the yellow.

 

I was really excited at the beginning of this Tour as I thought that teams, staff, riders and event organizers understood that this Tour was the right one to get the cycling back on the right track. I’m sad to note that it is definitely not the case.

 

I hope you are still enjoying the show anyway. Feel free to ask me any question. I will be glad to answer you.

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

1,613 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg!I just read the news of Vino’s positive test and the resulting death sentence for Team Astana in the Tour de France. Strangely, I don’t really care that much. 

 

Why? 

 

Well, partly because I just completed one of the best cycling days of my life. We covered 140 kilometers over some of the most historic cols of the Pyrenees: the Peyresourde, the Col de l’Aspin and the Col du Tourmalet. We suffered, but overcame the climbs; then practically flew down the narrow roads to immediately do it all again on the next one.

 

I logged more than 10,000 feet of climbing. It was a beautiful day. I’m in France.

 

I just don’t feel any connection to the dopers in the pro peloton. Is it only a few or is every pro using illicit means to improve his performance? Because I’ll never know the answer, I don’t let it concern me all that much. I’m convinced that whatever they’re doing in cycling, you’ll find the same misdeeds in virtually any other professional sport if one digs deeply enough.  

 

So, while the officials sort through who is cheating and who isn’t, I’m planning another epic ride up the 30 kilometers of the Col de l’Aubisque tomorrow to watch the pros contest their final mountaintop finish in this year’s Tour.  

 

I’ll try to focus on the amazing performances of the athletes, the craziness of the crowds and the spectaclestill far bigger than any busted cheaterthat’s called the Tour de France.

Rob

 

Rob Klingensmith is an avid recreational cyclist and an executive at Active.com. Rob will provide a unique perspective on what it's like to be inside some of the most decisive stages of the Tour.

1,034 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, 2007_tour_de_france, rob_klingensmith

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!This is madness!! Vino positive...I just can’t believe it. I’m so disappointed.

 

How can they do something like that? How can he do something like that to cycling?

 

These guys are nothing without cycling. No one will ever believe in this sport again. This is the knock out of cycling.

 

I can’t believe this guy is taking drugs. He has naturally so much class. He honestly doesn’t need this to win. He is already a star in his country.

 

This situation is now so embarrassing, you will see that nobody will want to win tomorrow. It is such a shame.

 

I can’t say it enough, these guys are just killing the sport--and by that they are killing themselves slowly but surely now. Is it what they really want? They gave so much to get where they are.

 

I really thought cycling was on its way back, but now I just don’t know what to say or even what to think.

 

Who is behind all that? What is motivating these guys to take drugs like that?

 

Now the psychosis is on and yesterday evening the Rabobank, Astana, CSC and Discovery buses were stopped by the police to process a complete search--for drugs, of course.

 

I feel bad to be part of this. The only good news is that the tests and controls are becoming more and more efficient.

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events , an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

945 Views 8 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Well, not really a comeback, as I’m still convinced that he has lost his chances to win the Tour, but at least a new stage victory for him.

 

What is great about that victory is it confirms my feelings in which I think that Vinokourov is an awesome, strong cyclist. He is a fighter. He may know that the Tour is over for him, but as you can see, he still fights and gives his best. This guy rides for pride and trophies and it’s really positive for cycling!

 

We have also seen a fantastic Alberto Contador today. He's a very strong cyclist and I am now wondering why he hadn't been more offensive earlier on in this Tour, because he surely has all the skills to be in a yellow jersey.

 

However, I was expecting more fights and échappées today. I thought riders would really attack and go on to get the jersey at the end of the day, but they just did the math and rode quietly so they could stay where they are sitting now. I was kind of surprised by that. There are so many surprises in this Tour that maybe Wednesday will go completely crazy...I just don’t know.

 

I also feel like Rasmussen can really make it now. He could win in Paris. That was the most important thing I will actually remember from today.

 

As you all can read in the news, we are still talking a lot about drugs and all that in the Tour, so I’ve been thinking about all this and I thought about a new concept I wanted to share with you so we could help cycling. Feel free to give me your thoughts as they will be very helpful for me and my team.

 

I’m currently managing a team in Brittany which is called “Bretagne-Armor-Lux.” It’s just a third division team but I’m actually experiencing something new with them.

 

All the team is living in Rennes (North West of France) and all the riders train, eat, talk and learn together everyday. That’s the concept. We register teams for the Tour so let’s train teams and no longer individuals.

 

Currently, athletes are pretty much training with their own coaches in their home town and all that. So, if you think about it, they can easily go and meet a “doctor” without anyone noticing it. And they can also be approached more easily.

 

But if you build a team and get these guys on the road togetherriding under the same colorsyou create a unit, a block that gets harder to penetrate. Each team member becomes responsible for their choices and you get exposed to questions, criticism and all that if you go the wrong way. The idea is to get the whole benefit that a team can bring.

 

You support your teammates, you exchange, you learn faster, etc.

 

I would love to implement something like this at a higher level, but this strategy implies a certain cost. When it costs a million to build a classic high level team for the Tour, my concept would cost maybe three to seven million. It’s a lot of money and a big risk. But when I look at all the team managers in place (some of them have been there for more than 20 years), I think it’s more of a risk to pick these guys. If they haven’t succeeded in 20 years, do you really think they will one day because they have experience?

 

Honestly, if we want to help cycling, we’d better try new things and concepts. So my question is: What do you think about that?

 

Let’s manage a cycling team as we manage a baseball team or a football team: One city, one training site and regular meetings to build a real group where leaders could really get a boost!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

986 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!I've been reading over some of my blogs for the last two weeks. Man, has it been a rough two weeks. Wish I could have given you guys another perspective of the Tour, but this is my reality right now. So I hope you guys like the fact that I've been real with the blogs, and that I’m giving you my true feelings as I’m going through them.

 

One good thing about all of this is that there is always a chance to fight another day.

 

For all of the bad moments I have had in my career, I’ve had some amazing moments as well. So when I sit here and beat myself into the ground just trying to survive, I am dreaming of that next victory. I think that is what keeps us all going for it again.

 

So, I guess if I can give my readers something to take from my stories, it’s that we all have to find our passion and fight for it. But remember that life is more than just that passion, so look around and try to enjoy the simple things.

 

Back to racing...

 

I managed to survive yesterday’s race with a real bad stomach. Don't ask me how. I think I really went deep mentally, because physically I was empty.

 

I woke up with the same bad stomach this morning. This will be my chance to fight again and hang on.

 

Wish me luck.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

1,642 Views 6 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!It always amazes me how people become experts of what they know so little about. To try to give some of the readers knowledge of what really happens out here...

 

First, yes, we are given a detailed book of the finishes with usually the last three kilometers very detailed. On today’s stage, the race actually went on the opposite side of the roundabout as shown in the book. So when the field was expecting a sweeping roundabout, we ended up in an S-turn. That was a mistake the organizers made. The riders were never given that little bit of detail.

 

Secondly, we, the riders, have been asking for safer finishes for some time, and they are not happening. And again, you would only know this information if you are a rider in the Tour. Races get complaints from the UCI when they are unsafe. If they get enough complaints, they get moved down in category. But this is the Tour--they are not moving down in category. So it’s much harder to get someone to change things when they have little to lose.

 

Here’s a little story to put things in perspective: Sometimes I train with one of the top 10 moto GP guys in the world. He loves to ride for cross-training. We were coming down a very windy mountain and I led the way.

 

When we got to the bottom, he asked me, “How do you guys do it...take those corners in the tour without blinking an eye?”

 

I looked at him, and said, “Wait, you hit speeds of over 300 kilometers per hour and you're asking me that?”

 

His reply was, “We have huge amounts of simulation and practice to perfect those corners, but you guys have never seen that corner!”

 

Go ask a Formula One driver or Moto GP guy to start a race unseen.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee , the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

852 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Some of you may think that with today's stage, the Tour might be over. You could be right--there are still two major mountain stages and we all know how good Rasmussen is in these types of conditions.

 

However, I don't think the Tour is over yet. There are still plenty of guys who could make it. But it's true that it could be a mountain specialista climberwho could win the yellow jersey in Paris.

 

With yesterday's time trial, today has been a very tough day for all in the Tour and I kind of feel now that tomorrow could be an important day.

 

With Vinokourov, who is almost out now, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow are the last chances for Astana to get one of their riders in the race for the win, so it will be very exciting to watch.

 

What was also very interesting with the time trial and today's stage is that it was the first time that you had a mountain stage right after a time trial. All the riders gave a hundred percent of themselves yesterday, even if they knew how difficult today could be. It’s interesting from a strategic standpoint to see how teams have handled that. And this is why I can't for tomorrow's stage to begin: Because I'm curious to see how teams will play this stage.

 

And one more time, today has been very exciting and lots of surprises. It is great for cycling.

 

The fact I have really noticed today and that I wanted to share with you is that there is pretty much nobody in the Tour who wants to see Rasmussen win the yellow jersey in Paris. It's like even all the journalists and so on want to see him down so we can stop talking about this whole drug problem. I saw Rasmussen at breakfast this morning and this guy is so obsessed by his weight that he is even replacing milk in his cereal with water so there is less fat. He seems to be a bit on the edge, if you know what I mean.

 

Is that the kind of leader you want to see or identify yourself with? Not sure...

 

The next two days are very important for many teams, so stay tuned and enjoy the show!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

860 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg!I'm sitting on a grassy slope, just below the 2km-to-go banner on the hors categorie climb of Plateau Beille. I'm filing today's blog directly from the race course, thanks to a slick 1-pound computer I carried in my backpack called a FlipStart . It's the "mini me" of full-featured laptops, at a fraction of their size and weight.

 

Today's race is the first of three consecutive Pyrenean stages that, together, will probably determine the outcome of this year's Tour de France. Now is the time for those cyclists who consider themselves climbers to go toe-to-toe with yellow jersey-holder Michael Rasmussen.

 

I left my bed-and-breakfast this morning and joined an American group from Ride Strong Bike Tours  for the 40-kilometer ride from Foix to the base of the climb in La Cabannes. The town was jammed with cone-licking Tour fans and media trucks, so I grabbed a quick sandwich and pointed my Cervélo towards the mountain.

 

The serpentine road up Plateau Beille is 16 kilometers long, with plenty of sections that exceed 10 percent gradient. It's a very difficult climb and a perfect end to today's challenging stage.

 

Today, virtually every inch of road is occupied by fans who claimed the best vantage points up to three days ago. Thanks to their boistrous cheering and encouragement, the steep climb wasn't too bad.

 

Thousands of other cyclists were on the road, and the common strategy was to weave your way to the summit finish line, then descend to a choice location on the upper elevations to view the race.

 

Before any pro cyclists can be seen, however, the daily parade of Tour sponsor floats and vehicles roll by, throwing candy and useless schwag to the crowd. This whips everyone up into more of a frenzy, if the all-day, beer-steeped tailgaiting parties weren't enough.

 

By now, you'll know the outcome of today's race, and will probably watch it on TV tonight. But nothing beats the experience of joining an international crowd of cycling fanatics on the slopes of a mountain stage, for a glimpse of the athletes and hours of cultural immersion in the Tour de France.

Rob

 

Rob Klingensmith is an avid recreational cyclist and an executive at Active.com. Rob will provide a unique perspective on what it's like to be inside some of the most decisive stages of the Tour.

856 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, 2007_tour_de_france, rob_klingensmith

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!I woke this morning completely wasted after spending most the night with stomach problems. Again, I couldn’t eat breakfast.

 

My morale was really low. I knew today would be doable, but how was I going to get through the mountains like this? After some serious doubt, I decided all I can do is take it day by day. Pick my battles one by one. Trust me, I’d rather be battling for a stage win, but with the luck that this tour has brought me, I’m just hoping for survival.

 

I know that I have one day that suits me, and that’s Paris. I know I can do well there, so my goals are set on just getting there to see if I have a chance.

 

Today, the time trial for me was to get into a pace that felt rideable--something that would allow me to start tomorrow. Hard to tell how hard that would be since I was feeling so bad.

 

I started the TT very slow and gradually built up speed to a controlled pain. I seemed to find more energy as I went on, so it gave me hope for the next day. Now I'm back at the hotel for some rest, and hopefully I’ll keep some food down.

 

Tomorrow is another day. And I will deal with it tomorrow.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

851 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!...And it feels really good, you know. Each day reserves us a good surprise at least.

 

I told you yesterday that I was expecting a match up between Kloden and Cancellara. Well, the rain made them crash and no rain was forecasted yesterday for today's race. So with the two hot shots down, who else could come and steal the show?

 

As a big surprise, we were assisted to a memorable comeback from Vinokourov! He has simply completed the perfect time trial. Strong, wise, careful; he dominated that stage from A to Z...and he is now only five minutes away from the yellow jersey but the Pyrenees coming soon.

 

Vinokourov looked very strong today. However, I think that Rasmussen is in a great position too with these mountain stages on their way.

 

It's going to be a fantastic match up between these two riders and these two teams. Will Team Astana be able to assist Vinokourov to get him the yellow jersey? Or is Rasmussen just flying on this Tour?

 

Remember that Rasmussen got sanctioned badly by his federation, so the Tour is all he's got left.

 

Despite all these political and commercial issues with Rasmussen and Sinkewitz, I'm really enjoying and I was today with some old pro like me and we were all on the same page.

 

I hope you are enjoying the show and if you have any question, don't hesitate!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events , an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

747 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!The hard thing about this is it’s not the first time I have faced a survival day at the Tour. So I knew exactly what I had ahead of me.

 

In most races under these strains, I just pull out and recover for the next one. But it’s almost a tradition that you go out there for the Tour de France until you can't go any more.

 

I woke up this morning feeling very sore, especially my right hamstring. I just couldn’t use it. I wasn’t sure how I would pull that off on the bike. My body was in a bit of shock. My stomach was giving me problems. I couldn’t eat.

 

When the race started, I had no idea what my outcome would be. I braced myself for the first attack. All I could do was hold the wheel in front of me. The wind came from the side, and I knew it was going to be a battle.

 

I kept finding myself at the back of the group just hanging on for dear life. I couldn’t activate my left hamstring so it felt like I was pedaling a BMX bike.

 

At one point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I really thought that was it. I was going to pull out. But I kept fighting and kept fighting, since I seemed to have just a little more fight in me. Or it could have been that the fight in the others was starting to die.

 

I somehow survived the crosswinds and kept contact with the field. But I knew the battle had just started. With 65km to go, we had a pretty hard Cat 2 climb and I knew that if we raced up it, I would be left alone.

 

I was pretty lucky, as the road was very open and the wind was blowing strong straight in our faces. That made the pace in the peloton doable.

 

Once I survived the climb, I knew I would make it. I was starting to fade, since I couldn’t eat anything with my stomach not feeling well. I decided to hold on a bit longer. The last 50km was fast downhill, with some small climbs just to change things around.

 

I just followed along and it felt like I was in the back end of a Formula One race, when suddenly, the guy in front of me couldn’t hold the speed. I called that my sign to take it easy and ride in.

 

I had survived a day that could have easily been my ticket home.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

799 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!A classic day on the Tour if we just look at the stage, but what a busy day, actually, with the Rasmussen case!

 

On the road, we have seen a classic stage with an échappée and a peloton which came back strong to end up the stage in a massive sprint, and great work from the Quick Step team to boost Boonen to the finish line first!

 

The thing I've noticed is that Cancellara decided to step back and relax pretty much 25km before the finish line in order to prepare for his time trial tomorrow. This makes me think that Cancellara is no longer looking for the yellow jersey but simply for stage wins. Tomorrow's fight will surely be between Kloden and Cancellara, so keep an eye on these two fellows.

 

So, I was saying that it was actually a very busy day for cycling and not only the Tour.

 

One more time, and I insist, a federation has brought a declaration during the Tour for something that happened weeksif it's not monthsbefore the Tour. I'm talking about the Rasmussen case.

 

The Danish federation just showed up from nowhere to complain during the Tour about something that has nothing to do with it. It's like the Sinkewitz case. The German federation would have had a hundred times the time to bring the positive control to the press. Why did they wait so long when a test is made in one week and a "counter-test" takes only a week to be completed?

 

You may all know that these federations work under the ICU flag...And you may also know that the Tour de France is the ONLY international cycling race today that is not managed by the ICU, but a private company called ASO.

 

Then it all starts to make sense, and the ICU game is pretty clear and very unfair. The ICU has launched the Pro Tour as you also know and it's obvious that they would love to include the Tour de France in it. But if this happens, it will surely not be with cheap attempts like they are doing through the Danish and German federation. It is honestly ridiculous to act like this.

 

It's a pure waste of time for us, for cycling and for the riders. I think the event director did good by letting Rasmussen take the start. If federations really wanted to blame their riders, they should do it immediately and not later on unless the ICU is blocking them and forcing them to communicate during the Tour.

 

The Tour might be the only race that has so much exposure, so it's pretty much during this race that we should all work in the same direction to get a cleaner sport. However, the ICU doesn't think like that and I'm afraid that it looks like they have decided that the Tour will be their battlefield. You can bet on more scandals before the end of the Tour...

 

Finally, I love to answer your questions, as you know, but this time I would like to have your opinion on that. What do you think about the ICU strategy? How do you feel about all this?

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

864 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!Let's just say I'm frustrated and very disappointed. Not with myself but, yet again, with the Tour de France organizers.

 

Once again, they’ve proven to have little respect for the rider’s health in this race. As a pro for over 10 years, I just don't get their ignorance in thinking that the peloton, coming in at 65 km/hr, was going to make it in one piece through an S-turn like that. I would have bet money that a crash would have happened in that corner.

 

What the organizers keep forgetting is that we have no idea how dangerous the road is ahead at many points. We again put our lives in their hands, and again they have let us down. I guess the saddest part is that I have been trying to be vocal about their mistakes, but they seem to just choose to ignore.

 

Back to the race...

 

Today, everything seemed to be on my side. The body was feeling good and it seemed like my hip was starting to recover from my last crash. The weather was hotter than ever. I knew that if I stayed hydrated, it would play in my favor. The pace before the start was already fast. I knew it was going to be a fast day.

 

We hit kilometer 0 and...we were off! The attacks came from every angle. Next thing you knew there were 20 guys up the road. And pulling away fast. It looked like Arroyo, one of the GC guys made the break. Discovery didn't want to take chances, so they started the chase. The speed was at max at that point and it was hard to just follow in the peloton. I was feeling good, and as I looked around, I noticed guys where having a hard time.

 

Discovery finally brought it back, then the next move went. Again a GC guy was there, so this time my team and a couple other GC teams took on the chase. We finally brought that back, and the breaks just kept coming, but it seemed there was someone always willing to bring it back.

 

It was just a matter of time before someone would get away, but time just kept going without a successful break...and so did we. I think it took 75 kilometers of attacks to finally send off a breakaway. Everyone seemed happy to let it ride away. At that moment, it looked as though we would not have a sprint. I started to relax a bit and began thinking that another day might be my chance.

 

Forgot to mention through all this that Moreau was caught up in a bad crash. But he seemed to recover from it, although he lost some time.

 

As we went through the feed zone, I concentrated on staying at the front. We were told that there was a heavy crosswind and that it could split the peloton if someone took advantage.

 

Nothing happened, we all grabbed our food and continued on.

 

Suddenly, all the Astana guys hit the front and the game was on. Cadel and I sat about 40 guys back. He got on my wheel while I basically did a full sprint in the wind in perfect aim of the Astana train. We quickly took in behind them and enjoyed the ride. From that point on, we sat in the sweet spot as Astana, Discovery and a couple of teams put the hammer down.

 

I was feeling good and didn't believe I was putting too much effort to sit there. But behind the field was in pieces. It seemed as if the other teams were OK with what was going on. Quickstep, Saunier Duval and others helped Astana keep the speed high.

 

We went under the 20 km-to-go banner and the break was already caught. I started to think of a stage win again. I seemed to make no mistakes today. Every pass I made seemed to come easy. I just knew my chances looked good.

 

From 10km to go, Horner took care of me. He made sure I didn't touch the wind. The legs where still feeling good as he took his last pull under the 2km banner.

 

It was now up to me to follow the right wheels. The speed was high--just the way I like it.

 

We hit the last kilometer banner and things looked very good. At that point, I decided to make another small pass on the left side to put me in a better position.

 

I passed as we hit a turn. Suddenly, that turn became an S-turn, and at 65km an hour that was going to be impossible to clear with the group. We all went wide out of control. I had nowhere to go. All I could do was brace myself to hit the guardrail at full speed.

 

I went into it head first, and my head and neck took most of the impact. Including my right knee.

 

After that I sat in pain not knowing how bad I was. When I finally realized that I didn't need to go to the hospital, I got up and finished.

 

To tell you the truth, I don't know how I'm not sitting in a hospital right now. Yes, I am in a lot of pain but I'm hoping to start and somehow finish this tour.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

2,628 Views 8 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Everybody was expecting another transition stage and we were all even scared of getting bored by that stage…

 

But what a surprise and what a stage! It’s in my top three for this year for sure! Team Astana played a fantastic trick by using the wind to create a breach in the peloton. It was so strategic and so well made that this is something we should show in cycling clubs. A real lesson of cycling today!

 

In the end, with this massive offensive, there is one of the leaders who is now pretty much out, and I’m talking about Christophe Moreau. With 3:20 late, it’s over for him. So, I’m thinking about the “discussion” he had with Fignon now, and if he was the great leader he said he was he should have seen the trick coming and he would have anticipated it to stay in the leading group. Obviously, he didn’t have a clue of what was going on, and in the end he has lost his chances to win the Tour, I think. I’m guessing that today has explained to us that Moreau was just not good in strategy. This should answer your question, ahoops, I think…

 

Finally, we have had great cycling today and this takes me back to the decision of the German TV to stop broadcasting the Tour. In some way, today was the best answer cycling could give: Just showing how cycling can be fun, exciting, complex and beautiful!

 

I’m telling you, everybody is talking about this here. And we are pretty much all on the same page. What they did is a shame, it’s just not rational. Now if they want to push the thing a little further, I would like them to tell tomorrow that they won’t broadcast the Olympics, nor the next FIFA World Cup, for example.

 

If they had the guts to do so, then I would show them lots of respect. Because in the end, by just creating tension as they did with this story, it’s focusing everybody’s attention on a problem that shouldn’t even be mentioned. Sinkewitz was already out of the race when they made their announcement. So what is the point in doing this? Honestly, there is something or someone who is not being fair with the sport of cycling and there is no reason for that.

 

As you said Fleur, I can tell you that you get into sport because you love it and you don’t do it for the money. Once you start doing it for the money, you can tell yourself it’s already too late and you can be sure that your career is already behind you.

 

To answer the ahoops question about Discovery: The reason why they can’t find a sponsor is not because of Operacion Puerto or Basso is implicated, it’s simply because Discovery is an American team and they are looking for a national sponsor, but in today’s U.S. cycling there is no one as charismatic as Lance--and I’m guessing everybody would like to have a new Lance each year. But there has only been one Michael Jordan, one Tiger Woods, one Fangio and this is what makes sports and life so unique!

 

Enjoy the show and feel free to ask anything on the Tour. I’m your insider!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

695 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!Sorry guys. Haven’t been keeping up with my blogs. I guess the fatigue of the race is starting to slow me a bit.

 

Yesterday was one of those long days where I just had it set in my head that I would sit in the peloton and rest as much as possible.

 

That proved to be hard as the pace was out of control. The heat being up in the 100s didn't help. Yesterday we all knew a breakaway would go, but after 70 kilometers we started to wonder as the race was still all together.

 

As guys relaxed a bit and people took their nature breaks, the attack went. It was almost funny to watch as they basically rolled off the front, while most of us just watched. It would have taken only three pedal strokes for anyone to cover that move, but at the same time, everyone was happy to see it go.

 

After that, Rabobank chased all day. The pace wasn’t too high, but with a long and hot day, it seemed to go on forever. I remember being very happy to see the first KOM banner, as it meant the race was coming to an end.

 

So, after all that, I don't think I had much of a rest day, but I don't think anyone else did either, so we are at par. The worst went to the breakaway boys. They sure had a hard day.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee , the Fast Freddie Foundation , and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

814 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Where should I start? Lots of things have happened today on the race and in the backstage. Let’s start with the race...

 

Today was a classic transition stage where leaders could have a rest. Usually, you only have two scenarios possible. The first one is a big ending in a final mass sprint, and the second one, the one we had, is a serious echappée that ends up by making it till the end.

 

So, what you have to look at during these stages is the strategy of the leaders. How they manage their efforts and how they stick in the peloton to stay high in the rankings. Tomorrow will be pretty much the same thing I guess, so pay attention to leaders and how they manage the Tour. This is where you start wining the Tour actually.

 

Let’s go backstage now with an incredible fight (verbal one, of course) between Laurent Fignon and Christohpe Moreau just a few minutes ago. Everybody knows Laurent Fignon, the great athlete, but Laurent is also now working as a TV consultant for a French television and Laurent is used to saying what he thinks, if you know what I mean. So after the Tignes stage in the Alps, Laurent said clearly that Moreau got very stupid on that stage by launching lots of offensives without really putting what it takes to make benefit out of one (at least). Two days later Moreau heard that and when he saw Fignon this evening, he basically explained him that he should no longer talk about a sport that he had left quite some time ago now. Honestly, Moreau was not in a great position as you could feel that everybody was behind Fignon. Everybody has a huge respect for Laurent when we are still waiting from Moreau to confirm at the highest level, if you know what I mean. So it was interesting to see how Moreau could get on fire for what was the simple truth: he had not played his Tignes stage smartly. Team managers are not doing their jobs or are we getting into a cycling star system where you can’t tell an athlete when he is wrong?

 

The second today’s hot news is about Sinkewitz. You all know about his bike crash by now, but guess what? He has been tested positive for testosterone today...and this is not just that bad, it’s actually even worse.

 

The German TV that is broadcasting the Tour has decided to cancel the broadcast for today--so no show in Germany today, as well as tomorrow, and we don’t know yet about the day after tomorrow. They told the Tour that if any young rider was controlled positive during the Tour, they would cancel the show.

 

The problem here is that the control was made on June 4th (during a training in the Pyrénées) so pretty much a month and half ago, so it’s not fair for the Tour to be impacted by this control.

 

It’s a BIG shame that no one has been able to bring this test to the attention of the Tour before the Tour starts. If it happened before the Tour, it would have been a sad news but with the Tour starting we would have focused on the race and moved to something else. Everybody is talking about that here, and I’m betting that in two weeks, we will still be talking about it.

 

So, I’m very sad today for the sports of cycling. You all know that this sport relies on private partners and that these partners sponsor the cycling because you get an incredible ROI as you get on the air for hours for a very cheap price. So, if tomorrow for management problems and organisation problems the Tour has to stop because there is no more TV which wants to get into a “dirty” sport, then it’s the end of cycling...and I’m sure no one wants that.

 

So I don’t know what went wrong but it really is time to focus on the organisations that are ruling cycling or it’s just going to be the end of cycling. The upcoming days are very important and I’m not talking about the race here.

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events , an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

789 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg!After summiting the fourth major climb of the daythe hors catégorie Port de BalèsI turned my attention to the gripping 15-mile descent. At 5,800 feet, the air was quite cool, and I shivered from equal parts chill and fear as I pointed my bike downhill, trying to stay clear of the kamikaze cyclists whistling by me at 50 mph. The newly paved switchbacks were just one-and-a-half lanes wide, but the lack of guardrails convinced me not to get too close to the asphalt’s edge; the drop was significant and I wanted to avoid riding home in an ambulance after making it this far.

 

I was participating in my first Etape du Tour, one of Europe’s top amateur sport rides that follows the exact route of one stage of the Tour de France. This year, we rode Stage 15 from Foix to Loudenvielle. The event’s length122 milescombined with over 14,000 feet of climbing, made it the most difficult in the history of the Etape, and certainly the single most challenging day of cycling that I’d ever experienced.

 

The day began with 8,500 nervous cyclists cramming into numerous starting pens in the village of Foix. Despite a 7 a.m. gun, it took 20 minutes to cross the starting line. Once moving, in just six short miles we reached our first climb, the second catégorie Col de Port. Coming so early in the event, the field had no chance to spread out, so the ascent was clogged with riders. This forced most to start conservatively, but also caused many to release their frustrations by launching into their first descent far too quickly.

 

The consequences of this strategy were realized only five kilometers down the mountain, with a major traffic jam of police and EMTs who were attending to a horribly injured cyclist lying in the middle of the road. The inert rider, blood on the pavement and smashed bike were not-so-subtle reminders that today’s descents were every bit as serious as the climbs.

 

Thirty miles of pace lines sped us to the second climb and descent of the infamous Col de Portet d’Aspet, site of Olympic gold medalist Fabio Casartelli’s fatal accident in 1995. Its 17 percent corkscrew gradients and blind hairpins were truly frightening, and I felt as if I’d dodged a bullet getting beyond it in one piece.

 

Up until that point we’d been fortunate to have some cloud cover that kept the temperature down. But at the start of the steep five-mile climb of the Col de Menté, the sun came out and riders began to suffer. On this third slope I maintained a slightly more ambitious pace and powered over the col for yet another very fast descent. My confidence was building, and it felt as if my Cervélo SLC-SL was on rails. Maybe I was figuring out this descending technique...

 

As good as I was feeling, the first 87 miles of the event were simply a warm-up for the remaining 35. Our next obstacle was the imposing Port de Balès. Its 12 miles of climbing including some of the steepest sections that we’d encountered all day, plus melted pavement that convinced me that the air had leaked out of my tires. What began as an exhilarating day of international cycling was quickly turning into an old-fashioned sufferfest.

 

Halfway up the climb at least a third of the participants were off their bikes walking, stretching or even lying in the stream to cool off. This was beginning to look like a death march. My speed was slowing to the point of defying gravity (how was I keeping my bike upright, going so slowly?), but I kept grinding through the kilometers. With two kilometers to go I popped through the treeline, got blasted by a cold headwind and could finally see the summit moonscape up ahead.

 

Having finally crested the highpoint of the Etape, all that remained was the nerve-wracking descent of the Port de Balès, the final five-mile climb up the famous Col de Peyresourde and a blistering descent into Loudenvielle.

 

Of the 8,500 who had entered, about 75 percent finished this year’s Etape du Tour. As a recreational cyclist, riding just one of the 20 stages of the Tour de France puts into perspective the unbelievable talent of the pros. Most of us in the Etape were riding to simply complete the course; the pros will race the same route at almost twice my average speed.

 

In subsequent entries I’ll tell you more about my equipment, nutrition and what I would have done differently, now that I have the benefit of hindsight. For nowif you’re a cyclist who lives for challenges, loves the sport’s culture and heritage, and are looking for your next big eventI encourage you to consider the Etape du Tour. It belongs on any rider’s life list.

Rob

 

Rob Klingensmith is an avid recreational cyclist and an executive at Active.com. Rob will provide a unique perspective on what it's like to be inside some of the most decisive stages of the Tour.

857 Views 11 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, martin-dugard, 2007_tour_de_france, rob_klingensmith, austin_murphy, etape-du-tour

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Have you seen all these fights, échappées and all that? This is what the Tour is all about and we would all love to get days like this for three weeks but you can’t just ask these riders to be on top like that all the time, can you?

 

For me, today’s big news is that Vinokourov has “officially” lost his last chance to win the Tour...and he will now ride for Kloden who is now my big favourite. I know what you think: he changes his mind everyday, but this is what cycling is all about. It’s plenty of surprises, nothing is really rational and anyone can win especially this year.

 

So, if I look at the ratings, I see that Kloden is something like 3:50 behind the leader. I can also see that there is still 90 kilometers of time trial to go, so if Kloden gets 30 seconds on the leader for each 10 kilometers that he rides in a time trial, he could win. You will tell me that there are plenty of other guys who could make it too, but the riders that are ahead of Kloden are all great riders in the mountains, but when it comes to time trial, well, they will surely lose some time to Kloden.

 

So, this is just a feeling and we will see after Albi (the next time trial). If Kloden gets some seconds on each of these guys easily, then we can really think that he will get the yellow jersey in Paris.

 

Finally, I would like to answer Dan's comment: Dan, you are right. I got lost in my thoughts I guess, but I do think that Astana is the strongest team on the field this year...and I think it’s actually the only one.

 

I was first thinking that Vinokourov would play for the victory and all these teammates will back him up but as he is now “down”, I’m looking at their team and I see a strong Kloden who could now be backed up by someone like Vinokourov and what a strong backup don’t you think? What about Kashechkin? One more time, he is a very strong athlete. The three of them could be our musketeers for this year’s tour. How nice would that be?

 

Of course, you will ask me who is going to join them to play D’Artagnan...give me a few days and I will let you know. I have some ideas...

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

515 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!I would like to start today by giving you an update on Sinkewitz’s crash yesterday:

 

Sinkewitz will not start tomorrow; he is out of the Tour. He has had an open fracture on the nose and has lost several teeth. The spectator has made an infarctus yesterday and is now in a deep coma. It’s a very sad news and we all appreciate the support that you gave to these guys.

 

As you know, today is a day off, so I have had some time to analyze all the stages and the configuration of this Tour.

 

This year’s Tour doesn’t have any “boss” as we say here, and as we used to have with Lance, for example. There is no strong team either as I told you yesterday, and I’m kind of feeling that we could see pretty much the same Tour as last year. I believe that any rider from the top 15 can win it, which is very exciting.

 

This guy will have to be very strong mentally and physically but there is definitely an opportunity for any guy from the top 15. And the biggest opportunity is definitely tomorrow. I’m surprised that no one tried to really take Vinokourov down when it was possible.

 

Tomorrow is the last day to take Vinokourov out of the race. If you let him pass the Alps without losing too much time, he will fully recover between Montpellier and Marseille and will then win the Tour for sure. I will bet on Vinokourov if no one takes big risks tomorrow.

 

Vinokourov has a very strong team and he has shown some very impressive mental strengths so far, so I’m pretty convinced that tomorrow is going to be decisive for him.

 

So, I’m already guessing what you think: What do they do on a day off like that?

 

Well, the first important thing is to keep the momentum alive by not changing your routine. Cyclists will wake up late and have a consequent breakfast as usual. Then, they will go for a two-hour ride just to keep the sensations and sweat a little bit. You have to keep your body used to burn energy, and even one day without respecting that would have an huge impact in a few days.

 

Then, they will keep a very light meal for lunch, probably a salad, and will rest. They surely won’t go for a walk or anything like that. The goal is to give some rest to your legs. They will finally end up by some massages at the end of the day and they will go to bed as they are used to do before race day.

 

If you have any question on preparations or anything that I could give through my experience, feel free to ask me and I will be more than glad to share my various experiences with you.

 

I can’t wait to tomorrow!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

553 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!We all knew that today would be hard. All the way through, I don't think I even remember a flat road.

 

Right from the start the race was on. I guess the fact that the start was downhill didn't stop guys from attacking. By the time we hit the first climb, everyone wanted to be in the break.

 

T-Mobile was able to control over the first climb. But on the second, a Cat 3, things got out of control. GC guys were jumping in the moves. Cadel decided to go across just in case. Next thing you knew, things were out of control and the break had to be brought back.

 

We went so hard at the bottom of the second climb that the group was all over the place. Finally, the GC guys came back and they let the non-contenders go up the road.

 

Rabobank was not too happy with the move, so they decided to bring it back, or at least hold it close. It seemed as if they were just going to control the pace, but when we hit the first Cat 1 of the day, Rasmussen went on the attack. I don’t think anyone even responded to his move since it was so fast. But the pace did go up a bit, causing me to drift slightly back.

 

I was able to stay near the lead group and make contact seven kilometers from the top. I was happy to make it back, seeing that this would give me more time to relax over the last two climbs.

 

Over the top, I dropped back to get some bottles for the boys. Unfortunately the road was so tight the car couldn’t move up. I had to drift back to the car, which was not a good choice. I grabbed five bottles and hung on tight as we started to hit speeds up over 90 kilometers per hour. I finally made contact with the field, but it was splitting everywhere. I think I had to go harder down the climb than up it.

 

I do remember that O'Grady was getting bottles around the same time that I was. But I just couldn't follow him. To me, he was taking too many risks passing. When I came around a tight bend, he was on the ground, wrapped around a wooden post. It didn't look good--I hate to see those crashes. Not a good sight. It’s just crazy that we’re pushing incredible speeds into blind corners that we’ve never seen. For all we know, each corner could be just a slight bend, or a sharp 90 degree turn. There’s a lot of skill involved, mixed with a lot of luck in deciding how fast we take these corners. And there’s not much there for protection.

 

So after carrying the bottles for 30 kilometers, I finally was able to make it back to the front and perform my last team effort. I basically sprinted to the front, then made my drop-offs as I drifted back. Once I covered all my guys, I gave a quick wave and called it a day.

 

At that point, I had over 20 minutes on the last group. I knew I could relax and just take it easy. Enjoy the view a bit.

 

Finally, with about 10 kilometers to go, the last and biggest group rode up to me. They seemed to be holding a nice pace until the last three kilometers. At first, I thought it was typical “last group style," a desperate increase in speed as we approach the finish. I’m not exactly sure why this happens, but it happens every time. This time, however, I learned that it was because we were pretty close to the time limit. But again, it’s not like the tour is going to send 100 riders home.

 

Later, I found out that Robbie had been dropped on the first climb and had basically been riding on his own. After the crash on the first stage, his body hasn’t felt the same.

 

I was told by the guys who rode the break with Rasmussen that he wasn’t even breathing most of the time. Cadel also seemed to have a good day as he spent the right amount of energy covering the moves. He rode a conservative race, but smart. Cadel is still within hutting distance of the yellow. We all know how well Rasmussen can time trial, so he’ll need a bit more time before he can feel comfortable keeping yellow.

 

Another good ride came from the young German, Gerdemann.

 

That's about it for now. We are staying close to the finish, so the recovery will not be very good the next couple of days because of our elevation. I think we are sleeping at 2,000 meters. But so is everyone else, so I guess we’ll all be tired on Tuesday.

 

I’m still contemplating how much training I want to do on the rest day. Guess I’ll wait and see how I feel when I wake up tomorrow.

 

Good night.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

644 Views 6 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg!What’s it really like to ride a stage of the Tour de France? On Monday morning, I’ll be learning the answer to that question first-hand.

 

Each year, the organizers of the Tour de France offer a citizen’s ride called "l’Etape du Tour"the stage of the Tourover the exact route of an actual stage of the race. And just to remind us amateurs that le Tour is serious business, they have a habit of choosing the most difficult stage for the event.

 

This year “the Etape” will be contested on Monday, July 16 (the Tour de France’s first rest day), over the route of Stage 15 from Foix to Loudenvielle. These 196 kilometers (122 miles) feature no less than 14,000 feet of climbing up five major mountain passes of the Pyrenees, including the 20-kilometer hors catégorie Port de Balès.

 

The Etape is limited to 8,500 riders, 5,000 of whom are French. The remaining slots are filled primarily by Europeans. Entries into the Etape are as difficult to obtain as those to the NYC Marathon or Ironman Triathlon, so those who have a confirmed start have prepared quite seriously and now are anxiously awaiting Monday morning’s starting gun.

 

I’ll be riding with a group of Americans and Canadians organized by the Iowa-based tour company Velo Echappé. Included in our group is my Active.com blogging colleague Marty Dugard and Sports Illustrated writer Austin Murphy. I don’t want to say that we’re racing each other, but I suspect that future bar bills and bragging rights are at stake.

 

After arriving in Toulouse on Friday, I’ve spent the last couple of days getting organized and spinning the jet lag out of my legs on my new Cervélo SLC-SL. This is a bit embarrassing. Of course I’m thrilled to be riding what many consider to be the best bike in the peloton, but therein lies the problem: I feel a bit of pressure to live up to the bike. After all, this is the same rig that Frank Schleck rode to victory on Alpe d’Huez last year, and Fabian Cancellara rode to his second stage win in this year’s Tour.

 

It’s Sunday night in France, so I’d better attempt to grab a few hours of sleep before our 4 a.m. wake-up call. Check back to learn how we fared, and if we’ve been able to complete just one mountain stage of the Tour de France.

 

Rob Klingensmith is an avid recreational cyclist and an executive at Active.com. Rob will provide a unique perspective on what it's like to be inside some of the most decisive stages of the Tour.

773 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, 2007_tour_de_france, l'etape_du_tour, rob_klingensmith, austi_murphy

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!Just got our first teaser to the mountains. I wouldn’t call it a real mountain stage, but by the way we raced, probably harder.

 

From the start, the pace was high. Everyone was looking for a good breakaway, but it wasn’t happening.

 

Not good news for me because if the break didn’t go in the flats, it for sure would go in the first climb. That meant lots of suffering for me.

 

We hit the climb and the attacks were on. I think I saw Hincapie try like four or five times, but teams are afraid of him getting too big of a lead, as he could be a wild card for yellow.

 

Three kilometers from the top, the pace was just a bit too hot for me. I decided to follow the second group, as they seemed to be at a more reasonable pace.

 

I did make a mistake by drifting to the back of the group over the top, not knowing the roads were open. It meant for bad crosswinds. I was dead last in the group, which was costing me too much energy to hang. I knew there were other small groups, so I let go.

 

The hope was that our small group would eventually catch back on when the peloton would finally let the break go.

 

It took a bit longer than I expected. And my little group was having a hard time. Luckily, I had big guns Boonen and Robbie. We all rotated until we finally made contact with the whole group. I think everyone was feeling the effects of that early pace, so I wasn’t the only one in the red.

 

At that point, a big break had formed and we had no one to represent. Cadel was afraid that someone in that group would get too much time, so we decided to help CSC with the chase.

 

From then on the pace was high and the road just went up and down. My job now was to keep Cadel out of the wind. He seems to like my style of cruising through the peloton. I guess, being a sprinter, I seem to be able to open holes that are usually not there. Cadel is a bit of a nervous rider in the peloton, so I have to keep him close to the front. Sometimes I have to put him in his place when he wants to ride too far forward. Lot more wind for both of us. I try to keep him somewhere in the 20th position, at worst. Just far enough to get a good draft, but still close enough to stay out of trouble.

 

We passed the next couple of climbs pretty much under control. My teammates and CSC kept the pace. I was able to ride the front and keep Cadel in a comfortable spot.

 

Once we hit the flats, the race was on a fast pace and we needed to start making ground on the breakaway. With five kilometers from the bottom of the last climb, Lampre came up to give a hand. But they put the pace so high it really put everyone in the red.

 

As we entered the bottom of the climb, I saw the banner and it read 16 kilometers. At the same time, guys started to attack while others sprinted for their lives to keep up. I wasn’t sure how that helped any. It only got rid of the guys that would eventually drop off anyway, so I didn’t see the purpose.

 

I stayed at the front of the group for the first three kilometers in case Cadel needed my help. Then I noticed the road was so steep there would be little I could do, so...time to shut the engine off.

 

I decided to enjoy the crowds and the mountain as I went up. I basically went as slow as I could go up the climb. By the top, the group with the sprinters caught me.

 

At the top, I just hung with Robbie and my teammates. We had plenty of time to make the time cut, so we were in no hurry to make it to the finish. Again the crowds were good. Over the top of the last climb we could only pass one at a time.

 

Cadel tells me he had a good day and didn’t have to dig too deep. Chris seemed to have a harder day. He said he was at the limit over the last climb, but he was still with the first 25 guys. Still a good ride.

 

The rest of our climbers had a bit of a harder day. For our boys, it was just surviving, especially since some of them had some hard work over the course. Chris tells me that Vino didn’t look so hot on the climb, but that was expected.

 

It also seemed that not too many guys really had the gas to make any good attacks. Most guys attacked and could only hold a hard pace for no more than 500 meters.

 

The Tour is still pretty open and guys just don’t seem ready to show their cards. Or they’re scared to, in case it doesn’t pay off.

 

I think tomorrow will really show who has the legs to contend the tour, but I am expecting surprises too.

 

By the way, I have been sitting in the bus for an hour trying to get out of the finishing village. Piece of advice if you come to watch a Tour mountain finish: ride your bike to the finish or make sure you have a hotel there.

 

I would recommend coming to the tour. It’s worth the trip. Something you will always remember. But it isn’t easy, unless you’re my family member and have VIP passes.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie", is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

629 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!I don’t know how to report that but T-Mobile was doing great so far until they first lost Rodgers and a minute ago Sinkewitz! While Sinkewitz was riding his bike down from the finish to his hotel, he has hit a spectator. He is in very, very bad shape with a head trauma. His face is covered by blood and he has had a cardiac massage a few seconds ago. It’s a big shame that a stupid accident has happened and I’m really hoping that it is not going to be so dramatic. T-Mobile has just lost their two leaders, so it’s almost over for them. It’s a real catastrophe.

 

After this very shocking moment, let me just give you my quick feelings on today’s Tour:

 

It’s been a fantastic day on the Tour, it was as great as we hoped! Have you seen all these echappées and fights? It was amazing to watch.

 

After this stage, my first thought goes to Vinokourov who did very good I think today by sticking to the lead without losing too much time. It’s pretty obvious that with all his injuries he can’t do more than that yet.

 

I’m telling you right now that I’m starting to think that Vinokourov could make a big comeback in the Pyrénnées. Has has such a strong will that he should be able to come back. So pay attention to him when you watch the Tour now.

 

I’ve been looking at the Tour since we have started and so far, I would love to give you a bet for the yellow jersey but I can’t see any team that has everything it takes to make the difference until Paris. There is not a very strong team so far and this is why I’m thinking that it’s gonna be a Tour de France for one man, one strong rider...and Vinokourov could be that strong guy!

 

I will send a message to the T-Mobile team but any cycling passionate should I think take the time to send a little message to the team to support Sinkewitz

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events , an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

1,171 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!Chris Horner is to Cadel as I am to Robbie. We are their super helpers. We are there to execute that last percentage of work that only few can do. Except Chris does his job at the top of big mountains, while I do mine on the flats, 400 meters from the finish line. The rest of our teammates play key roles, but we are the last buffers before the maximum points. It’s Chris Horner time.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie", is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

605 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!I'm glad you guys are enjoying my detailed rider blog. Sorry about giving you the insider view of how bad the organization is, but someone has to :). Actually, that’s something I'm pretty passionate about, and maybe when I retire I’ll try to help jump start a real riders union--which we don't have!!

 

We were just talking over dinner the other day about how the organization gives us fines for nature breaks at the wrong time, or grabbing a bottle from the car for a bit too long. We should fine them for the bad hotels and dangerous roads. How would the organizers like it if I put them through the same pain? But as Horner puts it, "We’re in France, chances of finding a good bed are slim"--but I think he means during Le Tour de France.

 

A good thing that most of the top teams now have is a traveling team chef. Since we have no control over what we get from the organization, we have to take our meals into our own hands.

 

Our chef is pretty cool. He actually has his own camper, and an assistant to help him buy supplies. Every morning he makes my special omelette, just how I like it. The other day, I asked him if he could find a good bottle of wine for us. Cadel actually gave him a list of foods he likes, so he can keep a varying menu.

 

Actually I'm told the region we are in is well known for 2- and 3-star restaurants. And the specialty is some kind of well-known chicken breast. Tell you all about it if we get it tonight.

 

Kept seeing vineyards as we passed by but, sorry to say, I didn't catch the names as we flew by.

 

Just heard Vino had to get some 30 stitches. Little bit more than me. I’ll be surprised if we see any action from him in the next mountain stages.

 

Talking about hotels, we just arrived at this small village called Chatillon sur Chalaronne. The hotel is called Hotel de la Tour. Very cool, it’s a three-star but it’s one of those places you want to stay at once. Lots of funky, cool things to look at. Every room has something interesting and different. I would recommend room 13. Not Robbie’s room, though--that one’s way too small.

 

Today seemed like a very controlled race, with only one solo attacker. I think it took two minutes for the lone man to get away. From what I understand, he was not too happy to be alone. But as he said on TV today, "It makes for good TV."

 

Again, the weather was warm and the crowds were out. Everyone seemed to enjoy the easier pace after yesterday’s hard ride.

 

The only time the speed went up was for the sprint points. On the first one, Robbie went on the attack. Quickstep quickly got on it and brought him back. I decided to give an attack to make them work for their money. As we came into the last 500 meters, Robbie sat in front of me and Boonen and Zabel behind me. I decided to let a gap open. It seemed to work at first, but Boonen was able to close it and win the sprint. Disappointing, but it did cause Zabel to lose out on points.

 

Later, I asked Robbie why he attacked. He said he needed to open his legs up before the first sprint.

 

After that, we settled into a slow pace again. Finally, about halfway through, Quickstep decided to chase. But it was kind of weird that they started off very fast. I later found out that Robbie was changing his shoes and they wanted to take advantage of him. Not very cool.

 

After that sprint, we decided not to contest the next two sprints so as to save the legs for the final of the race.

 

I did go up to the front to watch Zabel and Boonen go at it. They really went for it. Also, Robbie Hunter was giving a go at it. This time, Zabel had one of his teammates sweep his wheel so as to give some one else a hard time. That happened to be Hunter. They did a bit of pushing around until Hunter almost found himself on his face. Not sure which guy was at fault, but it didn't look pretty. I later heard Hunter pushed the guy in the face--also not cool. Sprinters can be crazy

 

The next sprint, everyone decided to save it for the finish.

 

After that, we had easy roads to the finish. The field sped by without much effort. Not sure if I really like that. Tends to give some guys a false sense of hope that they’ve become sprinters, and get in our way.

 

We played it cool today. Everyone was everywhere. It seems like everyone had a leadout going, but no one seemed to keep the speed high. Robbie, Leif and I found each other with about 2km to go. We sat pretty good about 20 guys back. When we past the 1 km banner, we started to move up. Things looked good as we passed on the outside. Leif was doing a great job breaking the wind.

 

Suddenly, someone hit me from the side and I had to go hard on the brakes. Wasn’t sure what happened at first, but later I was told one of the T-mobile guys crossed wheels with someone and blew up his front wheel, causing him to run right into me.

 

Robbie was able to react fast and get around the mess. He jumped on Hunter’s wheel as they went through 500 meters to go. He then jumped around perfectly to land on Boonen's wheel.

 

At that moment, things looked good. When, in his typical fashion, Zabel came right into Robbie, almost crashing him. That caused Robbie to brake hard, having nowhere to move. We all know Zabel as the quaker in the peloton. He’s really not that fast, but is good at getting himself in the right place at the right time, even at the cause of others. Remember my crash earlier this week? Zabel was actually the one who caused it while he fought for Boonen’s wheel. This time he almost took Robbie out.

 

Let's just say we are not too happy with Zabel right now. This was our last chance this week for a stage win, and it didn't go as planned.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie", is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee , the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

639 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!What a great and exciting day on the Tour today. With this amazing weather and the bank holiday, we have had lots of people along the road to kick off the Tour.

 

Indeed, today can be considered as the real kickoff. Tomorrow is for sure the BIG day, but with a young rider who won the stage, lots of echappée and Vinokourov and Kloden who are still in the game, it is really promising for tomorrow.

 

Honestly, I was thinking that some teams will use this stage to make a little difference, but with a strong Vinokourov and a good Kloden, teams have obiously decided to hold on until tomorrow to strike their first shot.

 

I would suggest that you take a deeper look at Caisse d’Epargne Team which looks pretty strong to me. We will see how they play along the road but "so far, so good," as you say.

 

Finally, a little blame to the organisation today as riders are blocked in traffic jam with more than two hours and 15 kilometers to go to their hotels. It’s a bit sad to see that the organisation has not thought about doing something special like a different exit or something. Riders are stuck in traffic because of tourists...not good for their preparation.

 

Tomorrow is very promising so stay tuned!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

534 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Question: I was wondering why the Tour was so slow and was not that exciting to watch and I finally received some interesting information this morning on the weather since we have started five days ago now.

Ronan: Cyclists have had to fight against a permanent headwind during all these stages and I’m starting to believe that the wind has had a real impact on the dynamic of the stages.

 

We have had another classic day on this stage with an échappée caught by the peloton so it all ended up in a sprint one more time.

 

The other key I wanted to give you today when you will watch the Tour is that Kloden and Vinokourov are seriously injured which has a lot of impact on their preparation. Yesterday Vinokourov left the hospital at midnight and it has definitely impacted his preparation. With his different injuries and scratches on the legs, he can’t really get good massages, he can’t sleep well for at least a few days. So these injuries not only have an impact on the day they happened and the following days, but they will have an impact within a week or some when riders will really be tired and will start digging into their reserves.

 

Keep this mind maybe not for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow but later on in the race--it will have an impact for sure.

 

Tomorrow is the first mountain stage and everybody in the Tour de France organisation is kind of really excited about that. Why?

 

Pretty obvious: Lots of riders are within seconds of each other, and big favourites like Vinokourov will strike hard tomorrow to get back in the race as this is the kind of stage where you can earn points and make a comeback. Lots of riders will also fight for the dots and competitors like Cancellara will go hard to stay on top. So we will have action tomorrow as each team has an opportunity to make a difference on the rest of the Tour.

 

Tomorrow and Sunday will be exciting so stay tuned and enjoy the show!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events , an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

548 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!Slowly, but surely, the tour is getting harder.

 

Today, everyone knew that the action would start. I made sure to line up at the front, expecting the wind to play a factor in the first 20km. And it was. The peloton was all over the place. Groups split everywhere. It seemed CSC was having a hard time keeping control.

 

Finally, after about 30 minutes of crazy attacks, a group of four guys went off. The peloton seemed content to let them go. We could finally take it easy, but that quickly passed as the break grew to over 11 minutes. Everyone looked around to see who wanted to take the responsibility to chase. It finally came down to Rabobank, Milram and Liquigas, since they had the most to gain by the chase.

 

From that point, the race was on. The course was hilly with lots of small roads, so it would prove to be a hard day. I rode at the front to keep Cadel and myself out of trouble.

 

I was feeling pretty good, but I could tell that my back was still a bit off from the crash.

 

I seemed to be passing most of the stage with little discomfort, other than my left leg starting to load up from the back pain.

 

Because I felt so good, I stayed at the front where it seemed to be the best place to be. Over the top of the second climb, I still felt that I had a good chance.

 

At that point, only Cadel, Horner and I were riding at the front from our team. I gave Cadel a hand to make sure he was protected. I knew that it would take a bit out of me, but felt confident that I had enough to make it over.

 

With about 20 km to go, I saw Vino hit the ground hard and knew that it was not a good time to crash, as the race was really moving now. It was so fast that we needed bottles, but didn't dare drop back in fear of missing a split.

 

We had about 15 km to go when we hit a small non-categorized climb. I was sitting a bit too far back and decided to pass on the outside. Since there wasn’t much room, I took a bit of a risk passing…when, all of a sudden, everyone stopped hard and I found myself off the road.

 

The only thing I could do was try to keep the bike straight up as I hit a bush. Luckily, that broke my fall.  I quickly got up and fixed my bike, but at the speed the group was going, it was a bit too late. Not even Vino could catch back on.

 

After my crash, I did have a chance to get behind Vino as his team made a last effort to catch back on. He looked bad as I sat on his wheel. He was bleeding from everywhere. I knew it would be almost impossible for him to catch. 

 

So that was my day. I rode in easy, a bit disappointed that I was not able to try for a stage win.  I knew I wasn't firing on all cylinders, so I didn't feel too bad about it. I know I still have more to improve.

 

The weather was great today, and we’re entering better parts of France. You could see the vineyards as we passed… not that I had much chance to look around.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie", is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee  , the Fast Freddie Foundation , and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

676 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!I didn’t quite enjoy the race today. One more time, we haven’t seen any fights or échappée so I’m a bit disappointed by this stage. I was expecting more from it.

 

I thought riders would start showing their real faces but they didn’t. However, the Astana team showed us that they lack tactic skills as when Vinokourov felt, he didn’t get the support he should have received. He ends up this stage 1 minute, 20 seconds away from the yellow jersey...ouch!

 

I thought that Astana had a real strong team and I must confess that after what we have seen today, I’m no longer betting on them.

 

Something I’ve been thinking about and which is giving hope is that with Vinokourov’s crash, now he will have to struggle and play it offensively if he wants to come back seriously. So I’m hoping to see a great reaction from him, maybe not tomorrow but surely on Saturday with the first real big stage! And we all know that Vinokourov has great offensive skills and he has the real fighter spirit.

 

Finally, I have noticed an important tension between Steegmans and Boonen this morning after what happened yesterday. I think if this tension goes on for some more days, Quickstep may have to deal with internal issues that could compromise their Tour. We will see, but it’s a feeling. You should have seen Boonen’s look toward Steegmans...

 

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the Team Time Trial today that we're really missing actually after such a classic day. It was such a fantastic concept, with lots of tactics, team spirit and such a nice entertainment for spectators. We will see how the Tour de France will handle this change and if it will be beneficial or not. But I’m missing the good old days today…

 

One thing is for sure now: We need some action right now!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in eight Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

583 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!Today’s stage was much harder. More guys seemed interested in going on the attack.

 

I was feeling a bit better on the bike. I didn't have to keep checking my saddle like I did yersterday, thinking it was crooked, when it was actually my back.

 

The roads today proved to be a challenge. They were small and rough, which made it feel slower...and harder on the body.

 

The wind was a bit of a challenge as well, as guys kept fighting for position, waiting for the moment when the field could split. That only happened once, when Liquigas put everyone in the gutter. The field split in half and I was left with the second half. I didn't panic, seeing most of the Discovery guys missed the split. But I wondered what the Liquigas guys had in mind. Did they really think they were going to keep that pace for the next 150 kilometers? I don't think they really thought that plan through very well.

 

About halfway through the stage, my left hand started bothering me. I think the crash caused some pinching in my upper back, which went through my arm and down to my hand.

 

Everything was going as planned. CSC did most of the riding so we all waited a bit longer before we put any of our guys up to help in the chase. Today we decided to use two guys, but to rotate them so they wouldn’t have to work all day. We also didn't send them up until 50 kilometers to go.

 

We knew the road to the finish today was big and the wind was coming from behind, so it meant for a fast finish.

 

The fight in the last 10 kilometers proved to be intense. Everyone wanted to be in the action. I tried to surf the peloton as much as possible and keep an eye on Robbie. We also had Leif to help out, so he did the majority of the work keeping Robbie out of trouble. I just kept nearby for the final.

 

As we approached 3 kilometers, we fought to move up but hit too much wind. We noticed Wim was setting the pace very high, so I yelled on the radio for him to pull off, which would allow us to catch our breath and move up a bit faster.

 

Things started to get crazy. We sat about 20 back and lost Leif for a bit. With about 800 meters, I wanted to make a big move forward to put us within the front 10 guys. Robbie yelled for me to wait. I waited a bit longer, the speed picked up, then Leif appeared. I got on his wheel and he gave it one more hard pull.

 

But this time he wasn’t making any ground. The speed was too high and he was slowing. He finally pulled off, but at that moment the speed was so high that we had nowhere to go. The road got narrow and we almost didn’t make it. We had to break for a split second and that was basically it. Robbie sprinted around me but it was too late. We were too far back to even take part in the sprint.

 

We made a couple key mistakes.

 

First, we misread the finish. I think partly because we were aware of how small and dangerous the roads have been the last couple of stages...so we fought to stay up front too much. We normally wait longer to hit the front.

 

Second, at 800m, we should have made the big pass to put us in a better position before the big acceleration.

 

Third, I should have jumped around Leif when I saw he wasn't hitting the speed to pass.

 

Fourth (and probably the biggest), we sat on the outside of the peloton too much. If you pay attention to the aerodynamics, the front of the peloton is breaking the wind to the sides, so the wind could actually be higher in this area at it picks up the speed to go around. We sat in that spot a bit too much.

 

But these are all mistakes we will carry to the rest of the tour. Live and learn.

 

Everything else on the team is going well. The guys are happy and we’re having fun, even if most of the hotels the tour is putting us at are no better than youth hostels. I bet the president of ASO isn’t sleeping on the floor tonight. I had to take off the bottom of my bed to make sure I don’t end up with a sore back tomorrow.

 

Thanks for your support and wish us luck.

 

As we bikers say: "Rubber side down."

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

772 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Ladies and gentlemen, despite the fact there were hundreds of thousands of people along the roads today, I am going to be honest with you: I was really bored!

 

What a so-classic, not-funny-at-all-day for the Tour de France today. We are all excited about tomorrow now. All the riders know that tomorrow is the real start of this Tour, but to be honest they could have entertained the public a bit more. But, the fact is that they can’t do extras now, they have to calculate their race and keep some energy for the other days.

 

Let me tell you that no later than yesterday morning I have recorded 53 blood tests on two different teams at 8 a.m. and guess what? The good news is that none of them were positives. All the athletes were able to take the start. By the way, I got a bit surprised that they decided to do these tests so early. As a former yellow jersey-wearer, I remember that I used to enjoy the morning to relax and prepare for the race. I kind of feel bad for these guys.

 

Anyway, I had a great lunch with my friend of all time, Bob Roll. We used to compete and race together back then and it was fantastic to share our points of views on cycling and you know what? We agreed on one thing for sure: Cycling is back! We are gonna see some real pain and real efforts now and it feels good...as a spectator.

 

It’s so important that we stop with this drug-taking, and especially for the Tour de France. The Tour de France, I think, brought the sport of cycling to another level and this sport would never have been what it is today without the Tour.

 

Ladies and Gentleman, the Tour is BACK and serious things start tomorrow!

Ronan

 

PS: Very hilly stage tomorrow, so I’m betting that Cancellara is going to lose his yellow jersey. Not a fun day for sprinters tomorrow.

 

Feel free to send your questions and/or comments so I can get you into the Peloton. I hope you are enjoying the show!

 

Ronan Pensec participated in eight Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

654 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!Thank you for your concerns.

 

I’m starting to feel better.

 

I had to spend most of the evening at the hospital making sure I could get the green light for the start.  I’ve also had to eat a bit more as my body needs the calories to recover from the energy.

 

My body is in protection mode, so most of my energy goes into healing.

 

It will probably take five days to start to come around again.

Freddie

643 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

 

As you know today was the longest stage of the Tour and the pros didn’t really...do good!

 

We have to be honest: I talked with the event director and the guys showed up at the finish line an hour later than what we thought.

 

And you know what, I think it’s the best thing that has happened since years in pro cycling. Today, the peloton has sent a HUGE message to all of us. These guys are humans and I can tell you, they were under-performing in order to be in shape for tomorrow and the days after.

 

That is a major change in cycling. Last year, we were still seeing cyclists riding like crazy from start to finish and they were looking like it was piece of cake. Today no one suffered on the road, and there is a very good reason why: This Tour de France is going to be long and hard and they know it!

 

This is a great feeling. I really feel like we are getting back to something more enjoyable. I’m now starting to hope that we will see more “échappée” and more joy and disappointments as the big players may not all meet our expectations. I feel we are back to real cycling, the cycling I used to compete in. If this is the case, it’s going to be the hell of a show!

 

Fellows, if you have any questions, anything you would like to know, anything that can only be found in the peloton, do not hesitate and send me your questions. I will get the answers for you. Just send me a comment. I will be glad to share this unique opportunity I have to be in direct contact with cyclists.

 

The GREAT Tour de France is back and it feels extremely good!!!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in eight Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

517 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!I woke up this morning feeling much better. We will have to see how the body will react in today’s race.

 

Yesterday was almost a repeat of last year’s Tour. I kept getting flashbacks to last year.

 

Basically, the only ones I can blame for such a bad crash is the Tour de France organizers. They say they are creating safe courses for us when, at the end, they do what they want. As sprinters, we have been asking for years for the organizers to take more responsibility for the roads.

 

You may remember how I crashed out of the Tour last year. Basically, on a straight road slightly downhill at high speed I went into uncovered construction hole. The organizers didn’t cover it, advise us of it or even shut down that side of the road. That crash could have ended my career, if not worse. The best part was that the organizers never took action to see how I was.

 

I was just off their books.

 

Sorry guys, I'm sounding a bit down on this subject, but I feel I need to give it to you how it is.

 

But again, cycling is one of the most beautiful sports in the world.

 

The crowds through Belgium were amazing. People were standing out on the road cheering on their heroes. One of my teammates, Wim Vansevenant, was able to sprint ahead to have a visit with his family and friends.

 

I did notice one thing. The fan base in France seems to be on the down side, but as soon as we cross the border the roads are crowded. Cross your fingers. Maybe some day the race will hit stateside.

 

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

399 Views 3 Comments Permalink

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!A very conventional stage today if we didn't have that HEAVY CRASH in the dying moments.

 

This crash will be in all cyclists' heads tomorrow as it has completely changed the configuration of this race.

 

I was pretty much expecting a little match between Boonen and Oscar Frere today, but this crash changed everything and finally that is Boonen's teammate who stole the show.

 

Because of this crash that happened only two kilometres before the final sprint, we have had a pretty confused sprint when everybody was waiting for a big final.

 

Today's first and single échappée was the good one as it got only caught by peloton a few kilometres before the arrival. It has been a very strategic race today for all the teams that ended up in the unexpected finish.

 

Belgians were expecting a win of one their compatriot today but I bet they were not expecting Steegmans who usually prepares the sprint for Boonen who is anyway now on top of the rankings tonight.

 

Quick step has been lucky today and as I said yesterday this Tour will be lots of surprises but hopefully better than today's one.

 

Back tomorrow with some more hot news.

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in eight Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

519 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/StiedaAlexYel86 @PhSpt.jp|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/StiedaAlexYel86 @PhSpt.jp!Watching David Millar strategically work the breakaway on this Tour's first road stage, then drop back to the pack to win the sprint for second place on the last mountain points sprint brings back many memories of our first Tour.

 

1986: It sure doesn't seem like it was 21 years ago that our 7-Eleven team entered its first Tour de France and I put myself into position to wear the yellow jersey and then the polka-dot jersey for an additional five days.

 

Back in the day, we hadn't prepared for the Tour de France properly by any stretch of the imagination. A training camp in Santa Barbara after a sporadic spring of racing in Europe, and balancing 7-Eleven's requirements for exposure in the U.S., was going to have to do for us. We flew straight to Paris and straight to the sign-on for the start. Jetlag didn't really mean anything since most of the team had been commuting between the U.S. and Europe regularly during our second season as a pro team. We really didn't know anything about the race course until we got there--we had no internet, no reconnaisance camps in the Alps or the Pyrennees and, most importantly, no one on the team who had any experience racing in the mountains of France. We literally were riding by the seats of our pants, taking advantage of opportunities as they arose.

 

Getting away on the first road stage was something that I had thought would be a pretty cool idea--so I wore a skinsuit to the start line for the 80-km stage. Our team was shocked and a little embarrassed as we were trying to fit into the Euro program and not stand out. I shrugged my shoulders and started the stage with determination to carry through with my plan. About 40km in, with the pack riding slow, I pretended to roll off the front to take a nature break. Soon, I was out of sight in the rolling terrain outside of Paris and I put the hammer down. I had a five-minute gap and rolled through three time bonus sprints as well as mountain points. While my stalwart teammates blocked, a break caught me and I helped keep the pace going in this group, keeping us away from the main field so that Vanderaerden couldn't take the time bonus at the finish. The effort earned me the yellow for a day by eight seconds and subsequently the polka for five further days.

 

Watching David Millar execute his strategy on Sunday was another perfect example of how cycling is such an incredibly beautiful sport--the combination of pure strategy, maximizing individual strengths and team support, all while rolling down the road is something that no other sport can offer. Hats off to David for making the most of his stop-over on home soil.

 

Alex Stieda's cycling career spanned 15 years from 1977 to 1992, during which he raced track and road bicycles. He won bronze medals at the '82 Commonwealth Games (Brisbane) and '83 Universiade Games (Edmonton), represented Canada at the '84 Los Angeles Olympics and in 1986, was the first North American to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France. Stieda lives in Edmonton with his wife and two children. Alex is currently involved with Project Rwanda, a charity committed to furthering the economic development of Rwanda through initiatives based on the bicycle as a tool and symbol of hope. Project Rwanda's goal is use the bike to help boost the Rwandan economy as well as re-brand Rwanda as a beautiful and safe place to do business and visit freely.

578 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, alex-stieda, alex_stieda

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!With 25km to go, Robbie got caught in a crash, largely due to the narrow roads.

 

With about 18km, Quickstep decided to take advantage of our problem. They increased the pace in hopes that Robbie would not come back. At that point everyone except Cadel, Horner and myself were sent back to chase and help Robbie.

 

The team did an incredible job closing the gap. With 9km to go, Robbie made contact with the back of the group. At that point, I was sitting behind the Quickstep lead out waiting for the guys to bring him up.

 

I drifted back a bit with 4km to go since I noticed that he was not there yet. With about 3km to go Robbie was on my wheel. We started our way up the group. We moved to the right in hopes of a better place to pass.

 

Robbie passed me to take advantage of an opening. At that moment, my teammate Leif Hoste was behind us and he yelled at me to let him pass through as well. Seeing that he was part of the lead out team, I gave way to him in hopes of putting all three of us in a good place for a strong lead out.

 

At that moment, we entered a technical and dangerous part of the course and Leif lost contact with Robbie.

 

Robbie found the sweet spot in all of the mess and was able to make some big passes with little effort.

 

I told Leif we had to go full gas or we would not make it for the lead out. He did a good job passing, but we came a bit short into the last corner and had to break before we made contact with Robbie.

 

I was within the first 20 guys and was able to see Robbie sitting well within the first 10. I also noticed no one had control of the lead out and the speed was low, which would favor Robbie's quickness.

 

I should point out that the rest of the top sprinters favor fast sprints. This was a twisty, low-speed sprint, which favors a true, fast-twitch sprinter like Robbie.

 

At that point, it looked like no one wanted to be the first one to jump, and they all waited. That put Robbie in perfect position to explode out of the pocket and accelerate to top speed before anyone could even get up to speed.

 

That's why Robbie's speed made such an impact when compared to the others.

 

We have radios so there's direct access to directors and everyone on the team. So we had full info about what was going on at all times.

 

We always celebrate with some champagne...and a big cheer that everyone in the restaurant can't hear.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the [Fast Freddie Foundation|http://www.fastfreddiefoundation.com/], and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.+

634 Views Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!It was a classic day on the Tour de France today as we are in the observation round.

 

A massive sprint has logically ended up this stage as all the teams are really close to each other in rankings. It was clear that no one was willing to show either their motivations nor goals. We could obviously see that the teams that have great sprinters were trying to hold the peloton and retain any serious "echappée" to play the victory in the final sprint. I feel like we will have one more day at least like this as all the favourites are playing it strategic so far. The Tour de France is just about to start so be ready for some real action in the coming days.

 

There was definitely lots of stress and tension in the peloton today and I guess there will still be some on the boat that will take us this evening from England to France...it will be interesting to live.

 

Well, the Tour de France has only spent two days in England but it was warmly welcomed by thousands of people along the roads. Organisation was amazing and I think people really enjoyed the show today. It's been a great experience on both sides of the Channel!

 

Ladies and gentlemen, the great Tour de France is still alive, so stay tuned for some more hot news!

--Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in eight Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

514 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec

Dr. Allen Lim: Prologue 2007

Posted by ActiveTdF Jul 8, 2007

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/lim150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/lim150x150.jpg!Although the prologue is the shortest event in the Tour de France it is by no means the easiest. At 7.9 km, the 9- to 10-minute all-out effort involved in the prologue is excruciating, requiring the complete utilization of both oxidative and non-oxidative energy systems. Generally speaking, this means that the athletes who do best in the prologue have the best combination of both aerobic and anaerobic power. That said, every athlete is different and for this time frame, some athletes better known as long time trial specialists or climbers may produce the majority of their power through aerobic systems while other athletes better known as sprinters or as pure prologue specialists may rely more on their anaerobic power.

 

Regardless, the prologue is a gut-wrenching effort that requires extraordinary effort, focus and, of course, fitness. Historically, this means that the winner of the Tour will generally make the top 10 in the prologue despite not being a prologue specialist. Still, the short time frame of the prologue means that a lot can go wrong. One bad corner, a slight loss of concentration, or a mechanical can mean the difference between making the top 10 or settling for the top 50. In addition, at between 30 to 33 mph, aerodynamic drag is the primary form of resistance holding back the riders on the essentially flat prologue course. Thus, decreasing aerodynamic resistance is as important if not more important than an athlete's ability to produce power during the prologue.

 

In today's prolgoue, Fabian Cancellara put in a truly amazing performance. In fact, I can't recall a rider putting in that dominating of a performance in the prologue since Chris Boardman set the Tour prologue speed record of 55.12 kph on a 7.2-km course in 1994. At 53.59 kph (33.2 mph) over today's 7.9 km course, I estimate that Cancellara had to maintain an average power of 541 watts (See this chart ). This would give him a power-to-weight ratio of 6.94 watts per kg. If all of his power came from only aerobic energy sources, then his maximal aerobic capacity or VO2 max would be, at the very least, a stunning 88 ml/kg/min (average Tour rider is about 75 ml/kg/min).

 

In contrast to Cancellara's performance, the next fastest time was Andreas Kloden who was almost 13 seconds slower. Though not as fast as Cancellara, Kloden's ride makes him one of the main athletes to watch at this year's Tour. For his time, I estimate that Kloden needed to average 462 watts. This gives him a power-to-weight ratio of 7.11 watts per kg, which is extraordinarily high for an athlete not known as a prologue specialist. What's more interesting is that despite finishing 3rd overall in last year's Tour, Kloden only finished 24th in the 2006 prologue--a 7.1-km flat course very similar to the course in London. In last year's prologue, I calculate that Kloden only averaged 400 watts. Thus, his estimated 62 watt gain is fairly remarkable and if he maintains that form through the next three weeks, my thought is that he could easily be this year's winner depending upon how his Astana team decides to play things tactically. With Vinokourov's seventh-place ride, there is no doubt that Astana is the strongest team in this year's Tour.

 

Another interesting result I noticed in today's prologue was the fact that only two riders from last year's top 10 made the top 10 again this year. Those riders were George Hincapie (464 watts in 2007 vs. 460 watts in 2006) and Vladimir Karpets (485 watts in 2007 vs. 465 watts in 2006) with Dave Zabriskie (434 watts in 2007 vs. 423 watts in 2006) just missing at 11th place. The rest of the top 10 was made up of four riders not in the 2006 Tour (Cancellara, Gusev, Vinokourov, and Dekker) and four riders making from extremely significant improvements to slight improvements over their performance in 2006.

 

Finally, I couldn't help but notice the strong ride of Bradley Wiggins (4th) and David Millar (13th) in their home country. Both riders made improvements over their prologue performance from last year. In an event with so little allowable margin of error, it's nice to see riders still elevate their performance when it really counts. In the end, this year's Tour won't only be made with great power, equipment and tactics, it will be made with the heart and passion of some truly incredible athletes and support staff. In the end, it's not so much about the science as it is the intangible spirit of the human will. With that in mind, I look forward to not only giving Active readers some scientific insight at this year's Tour but to also shed some light on the more human side of the greatest race in the world.

--Allen

 

Dr. Allen Lim received his Ph.D. in Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Prior to obtaining his doctorate, Dr. Lim did his undergraduate training in Exercise Science at the University of California at Davis and completed his master's degree in Exercise Physiology. Dr. Lim has extensive coaching experience. He guided the UC Davis Cycling Team to its first national championship and coached the resident national cycling team at the US Olympic Training Center. He has also coached numerous amateur, professional, and Olympic athletes. He founded and acted as the full-time director of the Celestial Seasonings Professional Cycling Team and serves as the Director of Education for the Saris Cycling Group, Dr. Lim is also a partner of ThriveHFM, a health and fitness management consulting group, as well as the Director of Development for the Boulder Life Performance Center.

4,231 Views 6 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, allen-lim, allen_lim

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!I am stuck rooming with my Italian teammate Cioni !

 

Very nice guy, and we actually have something in common other than the bike. He makes a very nice olive oil. I told him we have to start a boutique shop together.

 

We also share the common interest in cycling politics. I would say he probably is a bit more involved than I am, but with my foundation, I probably have a different interest as well.

 

Stage 1 coming. Robbie and I both feel confident for tomorrow. We know it’s the first stage and anything can happen, so we’ll just stick to our plan as always---hit them late and hard.

 

It has been nice taking the tour out of France. It shows the level of support that top-level cycling has. They estimated 1.5 million people out on the course. I think that has to be a record for the tour prologue. Nice to see.

 

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

2,158 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!First of all, I must confess I have not been so excited like this since a few years!

 

I can tell you that this '07 Tour de France will be one of the most open, uncertain and exciting to watch, for sure.

 

It’s clear that there are many players in the field who could win in three weeks' time. There is no team today that will have the control of the peloton and I think this is why teams will have to play it strategic, will have to be offensive, and riders will have to be able to create and catch opportunities along the race!

 

Everybody has been talking about Vinokourov here for weeks, and all the media are already making him champion. Well, I can tell you that there is a lot of pressure on his shoulders; I could feel it today when he was talking to the media, and I think the media will not actually help him to raise his level to win this Tour. We will see how it goes, but today, it is Klöden who really impressed me.

 

We have a potential champion here. No one is talking much about him so he is in a very good position to create some surprises. And as I said, this Tour de France is going to be full of surprises!

 

Ladies and gentlemen, there is 3,570 km to get to Paris now and I’ve not felt so excited like that for some time now. If I was listening to my heart, I would jump on my bike and run one more!

 

Back tomorrow with some more hot news, meanwhile enjoy the show!”

 

Ronan Pensec participated in eight Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

482 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec

Travel is always fun NOT!

 

Kind of a funny story. Been racing George Hincapie from Girona to London. His team flew him out of Barcelona while my team flew me out of Girona where we all live. I checked in with him this morning (July 4) to see how he was. He was on his way to the airport as I was finishing breakfast before an easy ride.

 

I just sent a message to his Blackberry telling him that we had a little traffic, so it would be 10 minutes before I arrived at my hotel. He was still at the airport waiting for his bags.

 

I think I am going to win this race. He flew business class on a normal airline, while I flew one of the vacation economy lines out of Girona. So I had to travel tight and light. But I'd rather be fast than comfortable.

 

Final score: I win.

 

I was halfway through dinner before George arrived at his hotel.

 

That goes to show you how crazy our travel plans can be. Sometimes you get a good flight, and sometimes it can be a long day off the bike.

 

--Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

508 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez

The 2007 Tour de France

Posted by Luke_Active Jul 5, 2007

Greetings, and welcome to Active.com's coverage of the 2007 Tour de France. In addition to daily news and results, you can expect behind-the-scenes information from the 94th "Grand Boucle" as it kicks off in London for the first time ever, and circumnavigates France over the course of three weeks.

 

Martin Dugard and Bruce Hildenbrand are both in Europe and will report back daily in their Active.com blogs on the events taking shape.

 

Martin will also take part in July 16th's l'Etape de Tour, riding with friend and Sports Illustrated correspondent Austin Murphy over the 196-kilometer distance (122 miles) from Foix to Loudenvielle, the site of the 15th stage of the race a week later on July 23.

 

New this year, look for video highlights from the Tour as well. Jessi Stensland will follow the race from the opening prologue to the final ride down the Champs-Elysee, providing you-are-there glimpses of the excitement and pageantry associated with cycling's greatest event.

 

This third, guest blog will feature current and former pro cyclists, each presenting their take on the events unfolding in France. Expect to see some familiar names posting here throughout the duration of the Tour.

 

Finally, don't forget to sign up for Active's daily e-newsletter, delivering the latest news from the 2007 Tour de France--as well as your chance to win a trip for two to the 2008 Tour.

741 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: tour-de-france, martin-dugard, bruce-hildenbrand, jessi-stensland