!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.
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.