!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.
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.