Not mentioning the wipe-outs that we have had on this stage, today has been a really tough day for the Tour de France riders. With some heavy rain, winds and a particularly cold weather for the season, this stage will have a serious impact on tomorrow's performances.
This is why tomorrow's stage will be very interesting to watch. It will be a pretty strategic day as all the riders will try to recover as much as possible for Monday and the first real mountain stage. In the meantime, they will try to stick to the pack and keep the same ranking. One more time, Monday will be crucial for all the favourites.
As we will have a pretty short but difficult stage, it will be the perfect timing to make a difference and gain some seconds. But a tough day like we just had is a real pain for top athletes. You got heavy, stiff legs during the day and it's hard to recover well from that, not to mention the cold makes you burn more energy than usual.
As for the stage itself, some of you were wondering about Mark Cavendish's performance recently, well, I guess now you don't wonder anymore. I was quite amazed by his performance today when I first saw him crossing the finish line but when I thought about it again, I think we are witnessing a change of generation.
Some of the top sprinters are just getting a little older and lack the motivation compared to the British sprinter. Look in his eyes and you will understand why he won these sprints. He wants them more anyone else! He still has something to prove to the world of cycling, which might not be the case for some of the today's top sprinters.
At this level of competition, the training is still crucial, but what really makes the difference is your mental strength.
This is what George Hincapie brings to Team Columbia, which to me is one of the greatest
if not the greatestsatisfaction of this first week. George is doing an outstanding job in getting the young and the older riders of this team performing together. What they have achieved so far is great.
However, even though I like them, I now think that the Alps and the Pyrénées will hurt this team. And I would be surprised to see them on the podium in Paris, unfortunately. They have shown great strategic skills and a good sense of tactics this week, so who knows; they could be the real good news of this Tour. A new and fresh team bringing some excitement to cycling!
I will end up my post today by expressing some sort of disappointment and a certain worry about Damiano Cunego. He has not done well over the last two days and if he still wants to be in the race, he will have to do well tomorrow and more importantly on Monday. It will be interesting to watch his race in particular as the next 48 hours are the real money time for Cunego...So pay attention to this guy because if the comes back strong, it will have a serious impact on the mental state of the other favourites!
Please do not hesitate to post me your comments as I will be glad to share ideas and comments with you. And remember, if you want to enjoy the Tour de France from the inside, do it with www.RonanPensecTravel.com , the official Tour de France operator. VIP passes, exclusive interviews with the pros, and so much more to live together!
Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in 1990 while racing for Greg Lemond's Z team. He now operates <a href="http://www.ronanpensectravel.com/" target="_blank">+Ronan Pensec Events+</a>, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.