Thank you for your comments yesterday. As it's a rest day and that not much happened today in the backstage, I will try to answer all your questions below.
Please feel free to comment them and no worries if some other questions arise...
Regarding the Astana potential competitors, I will make it short here. I dont think there is any competition to be honest. Today, they have for sure 4 guys who can finish in the top 10 and no other team is even close to that. No doubt that Astana will make it this year. Sorry if I ruined the suspense.
If there was a coalition between guys like Schleck, Evans or Sastre, maybe we could have someone else in the lead but do you think these guys will cooperate and accept to leave the race to a competitor at the end? There can only be one winner and it will be one of Astanas riders.
As for the Tourmalet stage, I think the main reason why they left so many miles after the Col du Tourmalet was to make sure that the Tour wasnt over after the Pyrénées. And I think they made the right call even if it wasnt an interesting stage. The Tour isnt a one-day show, you have to entertain the crowds for several weeks!
The other reason is that the last week is super hard and we dont want anyone to fall in the situation where people will start talking about doping before we start the race. I mean, we all know what is going on but its not a reason to feed it wont you agree?
So, it was for sure a boring day but in the end, we have some remaining suspense and thats all we want. However, I think that the right call would have been to put another climb right after the Tourmalet. There are lots of small hills around it and its a shame they didnt think about that. Another col (mountain) wouldnt have killed the Tour for sure and the stage would have been more exciting to watch I think.
As for the Rabo team, I think that honestly, it may not look like they tried but I can tell you that they really tried their best. They were trying to go for it but the Caisse dEpargne was just stronger.
And by the way, I think the Caisse dEpargne can actually win other stages next week. We have quite a fast course on the second week and we will have classic stages with lots of echappées. So, the Caisse dEpargne is surely not going for the yellow jersey but they will go for stages wins and Im sure they will attack and try to win some. They have the talent to do so I think, and they are good at reading echappées thanks to headsets?
I dont think so
This takes me to your last questions about the use of radios. Today, if you ask the race directors, they will tell you that its for safety. Thats their main argument! If you look at statistics, there are not less accidents than before. Its not a serious argument and my opinion is that without radios, we would have much funnier stages to watch.
Riders would just be in each échappées, they will have to try, they will have to feel what is going on in the peloton, who is having a good day and there would be more attacks and so on, thats for sure in the end, they would have to PLAY! Thats a sport and when we all started racing in cycling, it was for the fun of it, wasnt it? Lets bring back the fun in this peloton and Im sure the riders will be happy and so will we!
Enjoy the show tomorrow and I look forward to reading from you soon. Thanks for the birthday wishes and for posting your questions!
Yours in Sport,
Ronan Pensec participated eight times in the Tour de France and wore the yellow jersey in 1990 while racing for Greg Lemond's Z team. He now operates Ronan Pensec Travel, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.
For all of you who are watching the race daily, get ready for some real action tomorrow. This is where and when the Tour will start this year--with the time trial!
As you have seen so far, the Tour has not shown much. The first attacks were usually the right ones and no one was really willing to show his real motivation except...for Alejandro Valverde and his win on the first stage.
To talk about this stage, some of you may think that it might not have been the best thing to do: Beginning the Tour with a strong win and clearly show that he wants to wear the Yellow jersey in Paris. But if you look closer, you will notice that any win can make the difference, and when a pro lines up on the start line, it's always (yes, always) to give his best and win the race if possible. This is why they are pros and this is why Valverde is one of my favourites.
The only thing I have noticed, and I was a little concerned about, is the general behaviour of Valverde's team: Caisse d'Epargne.
Did you guys notice how fast they ride...for nothing? Once again, today they did a strong race up front but the outcome was just zero. So I'm worried that the team is not backing up Valverde as he should be, and at some point, if they ride like this everyday, they will get tired and they won't be able to support him when needed. It's a bit strange and I invite you to check their behaviour. It's pretty interesting.
...And Romain Feillu is now wearing the Yellow jersey. You all know I'm French, but don't get me wrong; I'm not going to tease you. Romain is a great kid, he has some obvious skills to perform, but he is only in his second professional season and today was his day I guess. But when you ride 200K with only four guys, you loose a lot of energy and with the time trial tomorrow, I'm afraid that Romain will loose the jersey to Fabian Cancellara!
Cancellara is my favourite for tomorrow. Even if everybody is going to give his best shot in the time trial, I would bet on both a win on the stage and the yellow jersey at the end of the day for Cancellara. What about Valderde and Evans? They are outstanding cyclists but I think that Cancellera is just stronger on a time trial.
I will end up this post by answering a classic question that everybody asks all the time here: "Is the new Tour de France for this year?" Will we have the great event that we all want to see?
My answer is NO. We said back in 1999 and the Festina case that we would have a new Tour de France, a much cleaner event and all that. Look at the last ten years...it's been a real drama for the sport. This year's Tour de France can bring cycling back to where it belongs, among one of the best and most exciting sports on earth, or it can take it down for quite some time.
This sport only lives thanks to private companies who sponsor our favourite riders. What if tomorrow we have another case? It could be the end of it. We have been lucky enough this year to welcome two U.S. companies on the professional scene with Garmin and Columbia. Let's catch this great opportunity and trust to share more and more days like the ones we will enjoy for the next three weeks!
Please do not hesitate to post 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.