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4 Posts tagged with the tourmalet tag

Not only in the Tour de France, but in all sport, the best competitions involve great rivalries. Whether it is the Yankees versus the Red Sox, Federer versus Nadal or the Celtics versus the Lakers, it is the great rivalries which drive sports.


In cycling, the greatest ever rivalry was probably Fausto Coppi versus Gino Bartali. These two Italians divided a country, but their rivalry united the same country after it was ravaged by World War II. In recent years, the Lance Armstrong versus Jan Ullrich battles defined the Tour de France. Yes, Lance won seven Tours, but without Jan in his rear view mirror, those victories wouldn't have been nearly so exciting.


It started in the Alps, but the rivalry between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck reached new heights on the Tourmalet. With three miles remaining in today's stage, Schleck launched a blistering attack in an attempt to shake Contador and reclaim the yellow jersey. Unfortunately, the Pistolero from Pinto was equal to the task. In fact, he responded to Schleck's move by unleashing an attack of his own. When Schleck caught back up to Contador, he gave the Spaniard a look that can't easily be described in words.


Alberto Contador is a far superior time trialist to Andy Schleck so, if all goes according to form, the Tour is over today.  Contador will win his third Tour de France. But, what most sports fans will remember is that Andy Schleck made Contador earn every stitch of fabric in that yellow jersey.



4,057 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, bruce_hildenbrand, alberto_contador, lance_armstrong, jan_ullrich, andy_schleck, tourmalet, fausto_coppi, gino_bartali

Tricky Transition Days

Posted by Ronan Pensec Jul 13, 2009

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 don’t 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 Astana’s 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 wasn’t over after the Pyrénées. And I think they made the right call even if it wasn’t an interesting stage. The Tour isn’t 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 don’t 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 it’s not a reason to feed it…won’t you agree?


So, it was for sure a boring day but in the end, we have some remaining suspense and that’s 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 it’s a shame they didn’t think about that. Another “col” (mountain) wouldn’t 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 d’Epargne was just stronger.


And by the way, I think the Caisse d’Epargne 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 d’Epargne is surely not going for the yellow jersey but they will go for stages wins and I’m 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 don’t 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 it’s for safety. That’s their main argument! If you look at statistics, there are not less accidents than before. It’s 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, that’s for sure…in the end, they would have to PLAY! That’s a sport and when we all started racing in cycling, it was for the fun of it, wasn’t it? Let’s bring back the fun in this peloton and I’m 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.

2,740 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: ronan-pensec, astana, cadel-evans, carlos-sastre, caisse-d'epargne, andy-schleck, 2009-tour-de-france, rabobank, tourmalet

Today was the boring day I was afraid to have, but it did happen.


Not much action to look at in the end, it's very sad. It's very sad because you are in the Pyrénées and especially today, you have the Tourmalet.


But even a top mountain like this one didn't foster the riders enough to see some action. I'm not blaming them but it takes me back to what we discussed yesterday.


Why do we have stages like that? We have to go to the Pyrénées and we know that but; you can't just soften them so much otherwise you don't get fun anymore.


Today, I can hear two versions of why we are having some days like today.


The first one is because of doping. We are now always expecting to hear about a doping case so the Tour de France race director has setup some stages like that, that are tough, but not supposed to get you into doping. I have some doubts about that but why's a fair try.


The second version is to make sure that the Tour de France is not already over. With a strong Contador this year, we all know that he has a 99 percent chance to win the Tour but if you make him win before the end of the first week, you start losing business. I can handle this explanation, it makes a bit of sense but in the end, but I think it's regrettable that we get stages like that at all.


We know Contador is going to make it and he had such a strong team that I doubt he will lose the Tour this year.


But another question remains? What the hell are the team managers doing? Once again, today was a good opportunity to try something. Do they lack creativity? Is there too much money involved?


I mean when you have the Tourmalet in a stage, you have a very nice "tool" to play with. Why aren't they using that?


I will be glad to read what your thoughts are about all that and what you would like to see in the future (if things could be changed).


Please free to send me all your questions and I will take a couple everyday to answer them.


I look forward to reading from you tomorrow.


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.

2,451 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: ronan-pensec, alberto-contador, 2009-tour-de-france, tourmalet

I’m a true fan of the Tour de France. I used to ride it as a pro, I’m now helping TV productions, so I shouldn’t say what I’m about to say but it’s the obvious truth: Today was a boring day!


If you look at the course, it can’t really be any different. You have an easy climb 40k before the finish line so no one can get surprised in it and then it’s downhill and flat till the finish. Therefore, there isn’t much strategy. You just control the race, make sure you don’t lose time on your direct competitor and you can “rest” a bit.


And that’s exactly how the guys played it today. These days show some very conservative behaviours (which is normal in some ways) but it isn’t quite what we expect from the Tour de France.


I’m not talking about the riders. They made the right call today. They race to win. I’m talking about the race directors. Presenting days like that on the Tour is not quite good for the audience so maybe there could be something to think about it here. Shorten the length of the Tour or maybe these stages. I don’t have the answer.


But I’m afraid that the next stage will pretty much be the same except that the climb is a very serious one. It’s the Tourmalet. Hopefully, things can change tomorrow and we could see some action.


Today showed us that Contador is the man to beat in the mountains and I think he will rule the Tourmalet tomorrow and maybe gain the yellow jersey. That would be the best thing that could happen to the Tour.


We need some excitements like we had on the first days. We have to keep the momentum for the fans and for the riders!


The only positive thing about stages like today is that they suit any type of riders. So in some ways, it’s good for the sport. Everyone gets a shot at a stage at some point so it helps the riders stay focused on the Tour.


Anyway, I hope tomorrow will be fun to watch and if not, I’m not worried much. There are exciting things to come!


Stay tuned,



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.

773 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: ronan-pensec, alberto-contador, 2009-tour-de-france, tourmalet