!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!Let's just say I'm frustrated and very disappointed. Not with myself but, yet again, with the Tour de France organizers.
Once again, they’ve proven to have little respect for the rider’s health in this race. As a pro for over 10 years, I just don't get their ignorance in thinking that the peloton, coming in at 65 km/hr, was going to make it in one piece through an S-turn like that. I would have bet money that a crash would have happened in that corner.
What the organizers keep forgetting is that we have no idea how dangerous the road is ahead at many points. We again put our lives in their hands, and again they have let us down. I guess the saddest part is that I have been trying to be vocal about their mistakes, but they seem to just choose to ignore.
Back to the race...
Today, everything seemed to be on my side. The body was feeling good and it seemed like my hip was starting to recover from my last crash. The weather was hotter than ever. I knew that if I stayed hydrated, it would play in my favor. The pace before the start was already fast. I knew it was going to be a fast day.
We hit kilometer 0 and...we were off! The attacks came from every angle. Next thing you knew there were 20 guys up the road. And pulling away fast. It looked like Arroyo, one of the GC guys made the break. Discovery didn't want to take chances, so they started the chase. The speed was at max at that point and it was hard to just follow in the peloton. I was feeling good, and as I looked around, I noticed guys where having a hard time.
Discovery finally brought it back, then the next move went. Again a GC guy was there, so this time my team and a couple other GC teams took on the chase. We finally brought that back, and the breaks just kept coming, but it seemed there was someone always willing to bring it back.
It was just a matter of time before someone would get away, but time just kept going without a successful break...and so did we. I think it took 75 kilometers of attacks to finally send off a breakaway. Everyone seemed happy to let it ride away. At that moment, it looked as though we would not have a sprint. I started to relax a bit and began thinking that another day might be my chance.
Forgot to mention through all this that Moreau was caught up in a bad crash. But he seemed to recover from it, although he lost some time.
As we went through the feed zone, I concentrated on staying at the front. We were told that there was a heavy crosswind and that it could split the peloton if someone took advantage.
Nothing happened, we all grabbed our food and continued on.
Suddenly, all the Astana guys hit the front and the game was on. Cadel and I sat about 40 guys back. He got on my wheel while I basically did a full sprint in the wind in perfect aim of the Astana train. We quickly took in behind them and enjoyed the ride. From that point on, we sat in the sweet spot as Astana, Discovery and a couple of teams put the hammer down.
I was feeling good and didn't believe I was putting too much effort to sit there. But behind the field was in pieces. It seemed as if the other teams were OK with what was going on. Quickstep, Saunier Duval and others helped Astana keep the speed high.
We went under the 20 km-to-go banner and the break was already caught. I started to think of a stage win again. I seemed to make no mistakes today. Every pass I made seemed to come easy. I just knew my chances looked good.
From 10km to go, Horner took care of me. He made sure I didn't touch the wind. The legs where still feeling good as he took his last pull under the 2km banner.
It was now up to me to follow the right wheels. The speed was high--just the way I like it.
We hit the last kilometer banner and things looked very good. At that point, I decided to make another small pass on the left side to put me in a better position.
I passed as we hit a turn. Suddenly, that turn became an S-turn, and at 65km an hour that was going to be impossible to clear with the group. We all went wide out of control. I had nowhere to go. All I could do was brace myself to hit the guardrail at full speed.
I went into it head first, and my head and neck took most of the impact. Including my right knee.
After that I sat in pain not knowing how bad I was. When I finally realized that I didn't need to go to the hospital, I got up and finished.
To tell you the truth, I don't know how I'm not sitting in a hospital right now. Yes, I am in a lot of pain but I'm hoping to start and somehow finish this tour.
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.