!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.
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.+