!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.
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.