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5 Posts tagged with the team-columbia tag

What A Day!

Posted by Ronan Pensec Jul 18, 2009

I would like to thank you for your comments yesterday. It’s with great interest that I read your comments and I totally understand your point of view.


The only thing that I would add is that I used to race for many years as a pro rider and, even if I retired years ago I will always look at a race from a professional standpoint. There is nothing I can do about it and I was a pro rider because I was looking at a stage as a pro rider. Let me tell you that during this second week, most riders didn’t have fun. Most of them are just waiting...


Now, look at today. What a day we have got! You have to recognize that it was a day of sports with tears, deceptions, but also joy and suspense!


The big deception will be for the Columbia team that lost BIG today with the yellow jersey that could/should have gone to George Hincapie and the green jersey that will not be for Cavendish in Paris.


It must be very tough for Columbia because they had to make a choice today and they decided to support Cavendish’s sprint instead of Hincapie’s run for the yellow jersey.


It must have been hard to choose but I think I would have gone for Hincapie as I think he deserved a run with the yellow jersey at least...and in the meantime, Cavendish could lose this stage and still win the green jersey in Paris.


So, in the end, we have had a great day of cycling, with lots of attacks and an unexpected finish.


This is what sports is all about and I’m a firm believer that you can create a fertile ground to moments like that and I don’t think that the second week had much to do with it.


Tomorrow riders will start climbing and I’m very excited about it...and now you know why.


Enjoy the Tour de France!



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.

3,011 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: ronan-pensec, mark-cavendish, team-columbia, george-hincapie, 2009-tour-de-france

We have had an incredible first week, as you know, and a way less exciting second week, as you may have seen.Everybody was hoping that today will be the restart of the Tour but very bad weather conditions got into it and delayed the show...until Sunday now.


This stage was supposed to be a strategic stage for riders within 4 to 5 minutes of the yellow jersey but it ended up in a status quo. The only one guy who took advantage of this stage was Pelizotti who simply secured his polka-dot jersey.


So the next exciting day will be Sunday and I can’t wait till that evening and see how the ratings will be.


I’m actually thinking that we should take this second week out of the Tour. Honestly, it’s pointless and it only incites riders to take “vitamins” to be on top of their games for the third and last week.


Honestly when you have a Tour with Astana and Columbia, you don’t need this second week. Astana is ruling the peloton and only working to secure Contador’s win. And on the other side, when it gets flat, Columbia is totally ruling these stages, so it doesn’t leave much room to the other teams...unless you have stages like today...but the weather didn’t see it that way today.


Tomorrow will be a classic sprint day for our legend Cavendish, so don’t wake up too early, there won’t be much to watch until the last few minutes. I shouldn’t say so but it’s so true. I only wish I will be totally wrong tomorrow.


Stay tuned as the fun is just around the corner,



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.

2,581 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: ronan-pensec, alberto-contador, astana, mark-cavendish, team-columbia, 2009-tour-de-france, franco-pellizotti

I would like to thank you for your comments on my post regarding the radio. I can see that this is something that makes people talk…and there are very good reasons why.


Back in the days when we didn’t have radios, you had three options to get info on the race:

  • The crowd: it wasn’t the most accurate info you could get but it was very motivating and you are feeling much closer from the fans that the riders probably are today. I loved it and I’m sure that if you talk to any NFL players, they would tell you they love to hear the crowds!

  • The “Ardoisier”: This is that funny guy on his motorcycle who gives you the gap between the echappée and the peloton. When you race, you always look for this guy. Today, they are really useless but tradition stands and we keep them on the course.

  • Third and most safe option: the team manager and one of your teammates who would slow down to the race director’s car, collect the info and orders, and pedal back up in the peloton to tell his mates what to do. It was way less secure but we had much more open racing.


So the real question is: Do you enjoy predictable races like we have now? Do you like the fact that we can almost say at what second the peloton will make it back on the echappé and Cavendish will win the sprint?


I’m sure you don’t.


The reality is that cycling is not a technical sport. It’s an athletic-performance sport. Therefore, the peloton has never been more compact and consistent. There isn’t much difference between riders except for cycling icons like Armstrong, Contador or Cavendish on the sprint.


I remember the rivalry between Ulrich and Armstrong a few years ago. Back then, Ulrich was stronger than Armstrong but don’t get me wrong, Armstrong was still winning, wasn’t he? Why? Because he is just a smarter dude! Ulrich couldn’t get in the right echappée or get the right pace without his team manager.


Note also that in team sports like you talk about, you have team managers, coaches and players. In cycling, you go straight from team managers to players/riders. You don’t have a coach on the field. So it’s hard to compare sports that are not comparable.


Cycling is an old-school sport and it happens that it’s a lot more fun if you play it old school, without radios.


The more I think about this, the more I think that the idea of having only one guy in the team with a radio is the best option. The rider and the team get informed if there is any danger...and if the guy holding the radio gets one of his teammates in the echappée...we can’t control the échappée anymore and here comes the fun..


I will finish this post with today’s race that didn’t see Cavendish winning, surprisingly. The Columbia team looks very much out of shape and rode very slowly. I don’t know why and we are still trying to figure this out.


I guess Cavendish was a bit tired and the team decided not to launch on a sprint he wouldn’t win…just so he can keep his confidence up.


But what is funny about today is that the other teams are so stressed by the Columbia team, they are so scared that when Columbia didn’t ride hard, they layered their pace on them just to control Cavendish. It was funny to look at. Columbia is ruling the peloton this week.


Tomorrow will be rainy and hilly so I guess we will have an interesting day. I’m just hoping that we won’t get too many crashes. Will radios and team managers be able to prevent a rider from sliding on a slippery road? I doubt it...


Enjoy the show,



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.

2,297 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: ronan-pensec, lance-armstrong, alberto-contador, mark-cavendish, team-columbia, 2009-tour-de-france, jan-ulrich

It was another classic day on the Tour de France today and it should be like that until we hit the Alps now.


This second week of the Tour always makes wonder why we make it so long as we get to see over and over again the same scenario. It wasn't the case a few years ago but now, when stages are flat, we get an echappée and then a sprint won by Cavendish. I know it hasn't been like that all the time but since Cavendish is ruling the sprints, we can't expect much more from these stages.


You guys would think I'm playing the grumpy French guy here but I'm not. We have to recognize that Columbia has a great team for the flat stages and that they are really doing a great job at positioning Cavendish for the sprints. No doubt!


I'm just a bit disappointed that riders of other teams don't try more than what they do so far. I would expect to see them attacking a bit more, launching sprints or something about 1K from the finish line, just to destabilize Cavendish for example. If you bring him safely within the last 200m, you are 100 percent sure he is going to win. So, why not trying something else? I still wonder...


I feel like there is a tremendous lack of creativity from the riders and team managers. It's a bit of a shame for sports, and the Tour de France in particular, but I also guess that there is more and more money involved and you can't really argue against that.


Anyway, it's a great Tour with two great teams: Astana for the hilly stages and the yellow jersey and Columbia for the green jersey and the flat stages.


It has been a long time since we had two strong teams on the Tour.


Finally, we can announce that, with only three stages for sprinters to go, Cavendish will be in green in Paris.


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.

2,739 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: ronan-pensec, astana, mark-cavendish, team-columbia, 2009-tour-de-france

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 greatestif 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 , 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.

1,082 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, mark-cavendish, 2008-tour-de-france, team-columbia, george-hincapie, damiano-cunego