!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."
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.