What a wonderful day at the Tour, and what a great stage! I hope you had the chance to watch, as we have had maybe the best stage of the Tour this year.
Lots of attacks, lots of fights, everything shows that we have an open-ended race even if the yellow jersey remains in Kirchen's hands. It was a great day of cycling and it keeps me saying that we do have a great 2008 Tour de France.
The weather also helped for this stage to be so exciting. There was quite some wind and all the teams tried different strategies to take advantage of it--with some success sometimes. It's always interesting to see how each team reacts in these conditions. It gives you a good idea of the team spirit and what their goal really is. Are they trying to place, or protect a rider in particular? Are they just in the pack waiting for the next stage?
I'm now hoping that we will have some great action like that tomorrow. I'm betting on a pretty classic stage with a strong sprint at the end. There are not many stages for sprinters this year, so tomorrow is definitely a day for them. And to answer Dave O's post, we will see how Cavendish plays it tomorrow. It will give us the trend for the rest of the Tour. I will sure keep an eye on him as everybody will want another performance.
As a Frenchman, you must wonder why I don't speak much about French riders, but I think today is the perfect case study. We all know we don't have someone in France to win the Tour, but you should still expect to see some motivation and passion about the Tour from my fellow French riders. Don't count on it!
Christophe Moreau has just said goodbye today. It feels like it's the end of his professional career, and he was the French champion again recently... and I think that the saddest thing is the Agritubel team. These guys gave us a good four days and now it looks like it's over. None of the team members were able to finish in the top 20 and you don't even feel like they want to fight at all.
It's as if they were getting paid too much or as if their team managers were happy with these results. French cycling looks sad and boring to me. It must be the lack of challenge and competition between French riders that makes them so transparent--and today was the perfect illustration of that.
French cycling is not on top of its game, but the most important thing remains: we have a great Tour de France and I hope you are all enjoying it!
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 +Ronan Pensec Events+, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.