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Tour de France

119 Posts

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!...and we need it now! I will not talk about Rasmussen this evening as everything has been said and written a hundred times. However, I think it’s time for me to share with you some very important facts.

 

First of all, it’s pretty obvious but there is an extreme tension on the Tour. All the riders are acting as if everything is normal. They go to press conferences, attend all the meetings planned and all that, but you can see in their eyes that the pressure is getting a bit too high for them. They are even a bit scared of this whole scandal...scared of what you will ask. These guys are passionate and they are scared for their sport. It’s that simple. I wish you could see the thousands of people along the road today who kept on cheering all the riders from the start to the finish line. The Tour is not dead and won’t die. That’s my feeling. The Tour is too big to die and one day it will be the place of a new start, a new cycling.

 

However, don’t expect me to say a cleaner cycling. Why? Because with 250 blood tests since the beginning of the Tour and only two of them positive, this sport is clean. There will always be cheaters. Always.

 

But what about soccer? Last year for the World Cup, do you how many blood tests they made? Well, it’s pretty simple: none. They didn’t process a single blood test. It’s pretty easy for the FIFA to say that soccer is clean.

 

I’m telling you if we were applying all the rules and tests that you in cycling to any other sports, you would see lots of athletes differently.

 

So, the first question that comes to my mind when I picture that is, why does the media talk about only drugs in cycling? Cycling doesn’t generate as much business as the NBA or the NFL, for example. Cycling is not just one hour like a basketball game. Cycling is not easy to understand if you don’t have an expert eye. So what do you “market," what do you talk about to get some audience and attention? Drugs and doping work!

 

THe media is just searching for the sensational news, the scoop as you say. Shall we let the media rule this sport and decide what is important or should we help them understand what makes cycling great?

 

I would go for the second option, if you don’t mind. Remember early this week: the Astana trick to cut the peloton in two parts, all these echappées and all that? This is what we need to spend time on.

 

Finally, I would like to end with a very positive fact. Riders and all the people who are involved in professional cycling shouldn’t be scared of stopping doping and drug-taking. If they ride from 45 kilometers per hour to 42 kilometers per hour, we won’t care at all. There is no global timing involved in cycling. A 100-meter sprinter doesn’t have that chance because if his times go from 10 seconds to 13 seconds, everybody will start asking: "What the hell is wrong with this guy? He was running way better last year." But in cycling, we won’t even notice. We won’t care because cycling should be and will be one day above all these dirty, useless things.

 

So enjoy the show because it’s not over!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events , an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

1,351 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Rasmussen!

 

I honestly think that the Tour is over and that Rasmussen is going to wear the yellow jersey in Paris. However, the end of the race will be tough for him. People along the road today were whistling at him and telling him things I won’t translate here. It is really like no one wants to see him win anymore with all these drug-taking problems.

 

The atmosphere is more than tense, it is really bad. Everybody is tired of all these problems and they all pretty much want to be at the end already. It’s really sad for cycling but we only get what we deserve as we hear around here.

 

So, today’s stage wasn’t amazing at all. I was expecting a strong stage from the Discovery team to boost Contador but it never happened. Contador wasn’t as fine as he was two days ago. And I guess also that all these talks and issues are disturbing the athletes anyway. I guess this is why the race was a bit disappointing today.

 

Today another rider got controlled positive for testosterone--Moreni from the Cofidis team. Testosterone...when you think about it, how can we still try to use these products? I don’t know what the riders were thinking about before this Tour. If they did think...

 

So, the only thing we can tell about today is that the Tour is over and the jerseys are pretty much settled. Boonen will get the green and Rasmussen the yellow.

 

I was really excited at the beginning of this Tour as I thought that teams, staff, riders and event organizers understood that this Tour was the right one to get the cycling back on the right track. I’m sad to note that it is definitely not the case.

 

I hope you are still enjoying the show anyway. Feel free to ask me any question. I will be glad to answer you.

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

1,630 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg!I just read the news of Vino’s positive test and the resulting death sentence for Team Astana in the Tour de France. Strangely, I don’t really care that much. 

 

Why? 

 

Well, partly because I just completed one of the best cycling days of my life. We covered 140 kilometers over some of the most historic cols of the Pyrenees: the Peyresourde, the Col de l’Aspin and the Col du Tourmalet. We suffered, but overcame the climbs; then practically flew down the narrow roads to immediately do it all again on the next one.

 

I logged more than 10,000 feet of climbing. It was a beautiful day. I’m in France.

 

I just don’t feel any connection to the dopers in the pro peloton. Is it only a few or is every pro using illicit means to improve his performance? Because I’ll never know the answer, I don’t let it concern me all that much. I’m convinced that whatever they’re doing in cycling, you’ll find the same misdeeds in virtually any other professional sport if one digs deeply enough.  

 

So, while the officials sort through who is cheating and who isn’t, I’m planning another epic ride up the 30 kilometers of the Col de l’Aubisque tomorrow to watch the pros contest their final mountaintop finish in this year’s Tour.  

 

I’ll try to focus on the amazing performances of the athletes, the craziness of the crowds and the spectaclestill far bigger than any busted cheaterthat’s called the Tour de France.

Rob

 

Rob Klingensmith is an avid recreational cyclist and an executive at Active.com. Rob will provide a unique perspective on what it's like to be inside some of the most decisive stages of the Tour.

1,038 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, 2007_tour_de_france, rob_klingensmith

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!This is madness!! Vino positive...I just can’t believe it. I’m so disappointed.

 

How can they do something like that? How can he do something like that to cycling?

 

These guys are nothing without cycling. No one will ever believe in this sport again. This is the knock out of cycling.

 

I can’t believe this guy is taking drugs. He has naturally so much class. He honestly doesn’t need this to win. He is already a star in his country.

 

This situation is now so embarrassing, you will see that nobody will want to win tomorrow. It is such a shame.

 

I can’t say it enough, these guys are just killing the sport--and by that they are killing themselves slowly but surely now. Is it what they really want? They gave so much to get where they are.

 

I really thought cycling was on its way back, but now I just don’t know what to say or even what to think.

 

Who is behind all that? What is motivating these guys to take drugs like that?

 

Now the psychosis is on and yesterday evening the Rabobank, Astana, CSC and Discovery buses were stopped by the police to process a complete search--for drugs, of course.

 

I feel bad to be part of this. The only good news is that the tests and controls are becoming more and more efficient.

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events , an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

949 Views 8 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Well, not really a comeback, as I’m still convinced that he has lost his chances to win the Tour, but at least a new stage victory for him.

 

What is great about that victory is it confirms my feelings in which I think that Vinokourov is an awesome, strong cyclist. He is a fighter. He may know that the Tour is over for him, but as you can see, he still fights and gives his best. This guy rides for pride and trophies and it’s really positive for cycling!

 

We have also seen a fantastic Alberto Contador today. He's a very strong cyclist and I am now wondering why he hadn't been more offensive earlier on in this Tour, because he surely has all the skills to be in a yellow jersey.

 

However, I was expecting more fights and échappées today. I thought riders would really attack and go on to get the jersey at the end of the day, but they just did the math and rode quietly so they could stay where they are sitting now. I was kind of surprised by that. There are so many surprises in this Tour that maybe Wednesday will go completely crazy...I just don’t know.

 

I also feel like Rasmussen can really make it now. He could win in Paris. That was the most important thing I will actually remember from today.

 

As you all can read in the news, we are still talking a lot about drugs and all that in the Tour, so I’ve been thinking about all this and I thought about a new concept I wanted to share with you so we could help cycling. Feel free to give me your thoughts as they will be very helpful for me and my team.

 

I’m currently managing a team in Brittany which is called “Bretagne-Armor-Lux.” It’s just a third division team but I’m actually experiencing something new with them.

 

All the team is living in Rennes (North West of France) and all the riders train, eat, talk and learn together everyday. That’s the concept. We register teams for the Tour so let’s train teams and no longer individuals.

 

Currently, athletes are pretty much training with their own coaches in their home town and all that. So, if you think about it, they can easily go and meet a “doctor” without anyone noticing it. And they can also be approached more easily.

 

But if you build a team and get these guys on the road togetherriding under the same colorsyou create a unit, a block that gets harder to penetrate. Each team member becomes responsible for their choices and you get exposed to questions, criticism and all that if you go the wrong way. The idea is to get the whole benefit that a team can bring.

 

You support your teammates, you exchange, you learn faster, etc.

 

I would love to implement something like this at a higher level, but this strategy implies a certain cost. When it costs a million to build a classic high level team for the Tour, my concept would cost maybe three to seven million. It’s a lot of money and a big risk. But when I look at all the team managers in place (some of them have been there for more than 20 years), I think it’s more of a risk to pick these guys. If they haven’t succeeded in 20 years, do you really think they will one day because they have experience?

 

Honestly, if we want to help cycling, we’d better try new things and concepts. So my question is: What do you think about that?

 

Let’s manage a cycling team as we manage a baseball team or a football team: One city, one training site and regular meetings to build a real group where leaders could really get a boost!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

987 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!I've been reading over some of my blogs for the last two weeks. Man, has it been a rough two weeks. Wish I could have given you guys another perspective of the Tour, but this is my reality right now. So I hope you guys like the fact that I've been real with the blogs, and that I’m giving you my true feelings as I’m going through them.

 

One good thing about all of this is that there is always a chance to fight another day.

 

For all of the bad moments I have had in my career, I’ve had some amazing moments as well. So when I sit here and beat myself into the ground just trying to survive, I am dreaming of that next victory. I think that is what keeps us all going for it again.

 

So, I guess if I can give my readers something to take from my stories, it’s that we all have to find our passion and fight for it. But remember that life is more than just that passion, so look around and try to enjoy the simple things.

 

Back to racing...

 

I managed to survive yesterday’s race with a real bad stomach. Don't ask me how. I think I really went deep mentally, because physically I was empty.

 

I woke up with the same bad stomach this morning. This will be my chance to fight again and hang on.

 

Wish me luck.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

1,645 Views 6 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!It always amazes me how people become experts of what they know so little about. To try to give some of the readers knowledge of what really happens out here...

 

First, yes, we are given a detailed book of the finishes with usually the last three kilometers very detailed. On today’s stage, the race actually went on the opposite side of the roundabout as shown in the book. So when the field was expecting a sweeping roundabout, we ended up in an S-turn. That was a mistake the organizers made. The riders were never given that little bit of detail.

 

Secondly, we, the riders, have been asking for safer finishes for some time, and they are not happening. And again, you would only know this information if you are a rider in the Tour. Races get complaints from the UCI when they are unsafe. If they get enough complaints, they get moved down in category. But this is the Tour--they are not moving down in category. So it’s much harder to get someone to change things when they have little to lose.

 

Here’s a little story to put things in perspective: Sometimes I train with one of the top 10 moto GP guys in the world. He loves to ride for cross-training. We were coming down a very windy mountain and I led the way.

 

When we got to the bottom, he asked me, “How do you guys do it...take those corners in the tour without blinking an eye?”

 

I looked at him, and said, “Wait, you hit speeds of over 300 kilometers per hour and you're asking me that?”

 

His reply was, “We have huge amounts of simulation and practice to perfect those corners, but you guys have never seen that corner!”

 

Go ask a Formula One driver or Moto GP guy to start a race unseen.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee , the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

854 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Some of you may think that with today's stage, the Tour might be over. You could be right--there are still two major mountain stages and we all know how good Rasmussen is in these types of conditions.

 

However, I don't think the Tour is over yet. There are still plenty of guys who could make it. But it's true that it could be a mountain specialista climberwho could win the yellow jersey in Paris.

 

With yesterday's time trial, today has been a very tough day for all in the Tour and I kind of feel now that tomorrow could be an important day.

 

With Vinokourov, who is almost out now, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow are the last chances for Astana to get one of their riders in the race for the win, so it will be very exciting to watch.

 

What was also very interesting with the time trial and today's stage is that it was the first time that you had a mountain stage right after a time trial. All the riders gave a hundred percent of themselves yesterday, even if they knew how difficult today could be. It’s interesting from a strategic standpoint to see how teams have handled that. And this is why I can't for tomorrow's stage to begin: Because I'm curious to see how teams will play this stage.

 

And one more time, today has been very exciting and lots of surprises. It is great for cycling.

 

The fact I have really noticed today and that I wanted to share with you is that there is pretty much nobody in the Tour who wants to see Rasmussen win the yellow jersey in Paris. It's like even all the journalists and so on want to see him down so we can stop talking about this whole drug problem. I saw Rasmussen at breakfast this morning and this guy is so obsessed by his weight that he is even replacing milk in his cereal with water so there is less fat. He seems to be a bit on the edge, if you know what I mean.

 

Is that the kind of leader you want to see or identify yourself with? Not sure...

 

The next two days are very important for many teams, so stay tuned and enjoy the show!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

866 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/Assets/Cycling/RobKlingensmith.jpg!I'm sitting on a grassy slope, just below the 2km-to-go banner on the hors categorie climb of Plateau Beille. I'm filing today's blog directly from the race course, thanks to a slick 1-pound computer I carried in my backpack called a FlipStart . It's the "mini me" of full-featured laptops, at a fraction of their size and weight.

 

Today's race is the first of three consecutive Pyrenean stages that, together, will probably determine the outcome of this year's Tour de France. Now is the time for those cyclists who consider themselves climbers to go toe-to-toe with yellow jersey-holder Michael Rasmussen.

 

I left my bed-and-breakfast this morning and joined an American group from Ride Strong Bike Tours  for the 40-kilometer ride from Foix to the base of the climb in La Cabannes. The town was jammed with cone-licking Tour fans and media trucks, so I grabbed a quick sandwich and pointed my Cervélo towards the mountain.

 

The serpentine road up Plateau Beille is 16 kilometers long, with plenty of sections that exceed 10 percent gradient. It's a very difficult climb and a perfect end to today's challenging stage.

 

Today, virtually every inch of road is occupied by fans who claimed the best vantage points up to three days ago. Thanks to their boistrous cheering and encouragement, the steep climb wasn't too bad.

 

Thousands of other cyclists were on the road, and the common strategy was to weave your way to the summit finish line, then descend to a choice location on the upper elevations to view the race.

 

Before any pro cyclists can be seen, however, the daily parade of Tour sponsor floats and vehicles roll by, throwing candy and useless schwag to the crowd. This whips everyone up into more of a frenzy, if the all-day, beer-steeped tailgaiting parties weren't enough.

 

By now, you'll know the outcome of today's race, and will probably watch it on TV tonight. But nothing beats the experience of joining an international crowd of cycling fanatics on the slopes of a mountain stage, for a glimpse of the athletes and hours of cultural immersion in the Tour de France.

Rob

 

Rob Klingensmith is an avid recreational cyclist and an executive at Active.com. Rob will provide a unique perspective on what it's like to be inside some of the most decisive stages of the Tour.

862 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, 2007_tour_de_france, rob_klingensmith

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!I woke this morning completely wasted after spending most the night with stomach problems. Again, I couldn’t eat breakfast.

 

My morale was really low. I knew today would be doable, but how was I going to get through the mountains like this? After some serious doubt, I decided all I can do is take it day by day. Pick my battles one by one. Trust me, I’d rather be battling for a stage win, but with the luck that this tour has brought me, I’m just hoping for survival.

 

I know that I have one day that suits me, and that’s Paris. I know I can do well there, so my goals are set on just getting there to see if I have a chance.

 

Today, the time trial for me was to get into a pace that felt rideable--something that would allow me to start tomorrow. Hard to tell how hard that would be since I was feeling so bad.

 

I started the TT very slow and gradually built up speed to a controlled pain. I seemed to find more energy as I went on, so it gave me hope for the next day. Now I'm back at the hotel for some rest, and hopefully I’ll keep some food down.

 

Tomorrow is another day. And I will deal with it tomorrow.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

855 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!...And it feels really good, you know. Each day reserves us a good surprise at least.

 

I told you yesterday that I was expecting a match up between Kloden and Cancellara. Well, the rain made them crash and no rain was forecasted yesterday for today's race. So with the two hot shots down, who else could come and steal the show?

 

As a big surprise, we were assisted to a memorable comeback from Vinokourov! He has simply completed the perfect time trial. Strong, wise, careful; he dominated that stage from A to Z...and he is now only five minutes away from the yellow jersey but the Pyrenees coming soon.

 

Vinokourov looked very strong today. However, I think that Rasmussen is in a great position too with these mountain stages on their way.

 

It's going to be a fantastic match up between these two riders and these two teams. Will Team Astana be able to assist Vinokourov to get him the yellow jersey? Or is Rasmussen just flying on this Tour?

 

Remember that Rasmussen got sanctioned badly by his federation, so the Tour is all he's got left.

 

Despite all these political and commercial issues with Rasmussen and Sinkewitz, I'm really enjoying and I was today with some old pro like me and we were all on the same page.

 

I hope you are enjoying the show and if you have any question, don't hesitate!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events , an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

756 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!The hard thing about this is it’s not the first time I have faced a survival day at the Tour. So I knew exactly what I had ahead of me.

 

In most races under these strains, I just pull out and recover for the next one. But it’s almost a tradition that you go out there for the Tour de France until you can't go any more.

 

I woke up this morning feeling very sore, especially my right hamstring. I just couldn’t use it. I wasn’t sure how I would pull that off on the bike. My body was in a bit of shock. My stomach was giving me problems. I couldn’t eat.

 

When the race started, I had no idea what my outcome would be. I braced myself for the first attack. All I could do was hold the wheel in front of me. The wind came from the side, and I knew it was going to be a battle.

 

I kept finding myself at the back of the group just hanging on for dear life. I couldn’t activate my left hamstring so it felt like I was pedaling a BMX bike.

 

At one point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I really thought that was it. I was going to pull out. But I kept fighting and kept fighting, since I seemed to have just a little more fight in me. Or it could have been that the fight in the others was starting to die.

 

I somehow survived the crosswinds and kept contact with the field. But I knew the battle had just started. With 65km to go, we had a pretty hard Cat 2 climb and I knew that if we raced up it, I would be left alone.

 

I was pretty lucky, as the road was very open and the wind was blowing strong straight in our faces. That made the pace in the peloton doable.

 

Once I survived the climb, I knew I would make it. I was starting to fade, since I couldn’t eat anything with my stomach not feeling well. I decided to hold on a bit longer. The last 50km was fast downhill, with some small climbs just to change things around.

 

I just followed along and it felt like I was in the back end of a Formula One race, when suddenly, the guy in front of me couldn’t hold the speed. I called that my sign to take it easy and ride in.

 

I had survived a day that could have easily been my ticket home.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

803 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!A classic day on the Tour if we just look at the stage, but what a busy day, actually, with the Rasmussen case!

 

On the road, we have seen a classic stage with an échappée and a peloton which came back strong to end up the stage in a massive sprint, and great work from the Quick Step team to boost Boonen to the finish line first!

 

The thing I've noticed is that Cancellara decided to step back and relax pretty much 25km before the finish line in order to prepare for his time trial tomorrow. This makes me think that Cancellara is no longer looking for the yellow jersey but simply for stage wins. Tomorrow's fight will surely be between Kloden and Cancellara, so keep an eye on these two fellows.

 

So, I was saying that it was actually a very busy day for cycling and not only the Tour.

 

One more time, and I insist, a federation has brought a declaration during the Tour for something that happened weeksif it's not monthsbefore the Tour. I'm talking about the Rasmussen case.

 

The Danish federation just showed up from nowhere to complain during the Tour about something that has nothing to do with it. It's like the Sinkewitz case. The German federation would have had a hundred times the time to bring the positive control to the press. Why did they wait so long when a test is made in one week and a "counter-test" takes only a week to be completed?

 

You may all know that these federations work under the ICU flag...And you may also know that the Tour de France is the ONLY international cycling race today that is not managed by the ICU, but a private company called ASO.

 

Then it all starts to make sense, and the ICU game is pretty clear and very unfair. The ICU has launched the Pro Tour as you also know and it's obvious that they would love to include the Tour de France in it. But if this happens, it will surely not be with cheap attempts like they are doing through the Danish and German federation. It is honestly ridiculous to act like this.

 

It's a pure waste of time for us, for cycling and for the riders. I think the event director did good by letting Rasmussen take the start. If federations really wanted to blame their riders, they should do it immediately and not later on unless the ICU is blocking them and forcing them to communicate during the Tour.

 

The Tour might be the only race that has so much exposure, so it's pretty much during this race that we should all work in the same direction to get a cleaner sport. However, the ICU doesn't think like that and I'm afraid that it looks like they have decided that the Tour will be their battlefield. You can bet on more scandals before the end of the Tour...

 

Finally, I love to answer your questions, as you know, but this time I would like to have your opinion on that. What do you think about the ICU strategy? How do you feel about all this?

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

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!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/fredrod.jpg!Let's just say I'm frustrated and very disappointed. Not with myself but, yet again, with the Tour de France organizers.

 

Once again, they’ve proven to have little respect for the rider’s health in this race. As a pro for over 10 years, I just don't get their ignorance in thinking that the peloton, coming in at 65 km/hr, was going to make it in one piece through an S-turn like that. I would have bet money that a crash would have happened in that corner.

 

What the organizers keep forgetting is that we have no idea how dangerous the road is ahead at many points. We again put our lives in their hands, and again they have let us down. I guess the saddest part is that I have been trying to be vocal about their mistakes, but they seem to just choose to ignore.

 

Back to the race...

 

Today, everything seemed to be on my side. The body was feeling good and it seemed like my hip was starting to recover from my last crash. The weather was hotter than ever. I knew that if I stayed hydrated, it would play in my favor. The pace before the start was already fast. I knew it was going to be a fast day.

 

We hit kilometer 0 and...we were off! The attacks came from every angle. Next thing you knew there were 20 guys up the road. And pulling away fast. It looked like Arroyo, one of the GC guys made the break. Discovery didn't want to take chances, so they started the chase. The speed was at max at that point and it was hard to just follow in the peloton. I was feeling good, and as I looked around, I noticed guys where having a hard time.

 

Discovery finally brought it back, then the next move went. Again a GC guy was there, so this time my team and a couple other GC teams took on the chase. We finally brought that back, and the breaks just kept coming, but it seemed there was someone always willing to bring it back.

 

It was just a matter of time before someone would get away, but time just kept going without a successful break...and so did we. I think it took 75 kilometers of attacks to finally send off a breakaway. Everyone seemed happy to let it ride away. At that moment, it looked as though we would not have a sprint. I started to relax a bit and began thinking that another day might be my chance.

 

Forgot to mention through all this that Moreau was caught up in a bad crash. But he seemed to recover from it, although he lost some time.

 

As we went through the feed zone, I concentrated on staying at the front. We were told that there was a heavy crosswind and that it could split the peloton if someone took advantage.

 

Nothing happened, we all grabbed our food and continued on.

 

Suddenly, all the Astana guys hit the front and the game was on. Cadel and I sat about 40 guys back. He got on my wheel while I basically did a full sprint in the wind in perfect aim of the Astana train. We quickly took in behind them and enjoyed the ride. From that point on, we sat in the sweet spot as Astana, Discovery and a couple of teams put the hammer down.

 

I was feeling good and didn't believe I was putting too much effort to sit there. But behind the field was in pieces. It seemed as if the other teams were OK with what was going on. Quickstep, Saunier Duval and others helped Astana keep the speed high.

 

We went under the 20 km-to-go banner and the break was already caught. I started to think of a stage win again. I seemed to make no mistakes today. Every pass I made seemed to come easy. I just knew my chances looked good.

 

From 10km to go, Horner took care of me. He made sure I didn't touch the wind. The legs where still feeling good as he took his last pull under the 2km banner.

 

It was now up to me to follow the right wheels. The speed was high--just the way I like it.

 

We hit the last kilometer banner and things looked very good. At that point, I decided to make another small pass on the left side to put me in a better position.

 

I passed as we hit a turn. Suddenly, that turn became an S-turn, and at 65km an hour that was going to be impossible to clear with the group. We all went wide out of control. I had nowhere to go. All I could do was brace myself to hit the guardrail at full speed.

 

I went into it head first, and my head and neck took most of the impact. Including my right knee.

 

After that I sat in pain not knowing how bad I was. When I finally realized that I didn't need to go to the hospital, I got up and finished.

 

To tell you the truth, I don't know how I'm not sitting in a hospital right now. Yes, I am in a lot of pain but I'm hoping to start and somehow finish this tour.

Freddie

 

Colombian-born Freddie Rodriguez is a professional American road racing cyclist. He is a three-time US national champion and currently races for team Predictor-Lotto. His nickname, "Fast Freddie," is due to his reputation as a sprint specialist. His Fast Freddie Coffee, the Fast Freddie Foundation, and his new Team Fast Freddie help to raise funds to support youth cycling in America. Freddie resides in Emeryville, California, USA and Girona, Spain. Freddie is riding this year's Tour and will give us an insider's perspective on life inside the peloton. He welcomes questions and will try to respond during the Tour.

2,640 Views 8 Comments Permalink Tags: 2007-tour-de-france, fast-freddie-rodriguez, freddie_rodriguez, 2007_tour_de_france

!http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg|style=padding:10px;|align=left|src=http://www.active.com/images/newsletters/cyclist/TourdeFrance2007/images/Pensec4150x150.jpg!Everybody was expecting another transition stage and we were all even scared of getting bored by that stage…

 

But what a surprise and what a stage! It’s in my top three for this year for sure! Team Astana played a fantastic trick by using the wind to create a breach in the peloton. It was so strategic and so well made that this is something we should show in cycling clubs. A real lesson of cycling today!

 

In the end, with this massive offensive, there is one of the leaders who is now pretty much out, and I’m talking about Christophe Moreau. With 3:20 late, it’s over for him. So, I’m thinking about the “discussion” he had with Fignon now, and if he was the great leader he said he was he should have seen the trick coming and he would have anticipated it to stay in the leading group. Obviously, he didn’t have a clue of what was going on, and in the end he has lost his chances to win the Tour, I think. I’m guessing that today has explained to us that Moreau was just not good in strategy. This should answer your question, ahoops, I think…

 

Finally, we have had great cycling today and this takes me back to the decision of the German TV to stop broadcasting the Tour. In some way, today was the best answer cycling could give: Just showing how cycling can be fun, exciting, complex and beautiful!

 

I’m telling you, everybody is talking about this here. And we are pretty much all on the same page. What they did is a shame, it’s just not rational. Now if they want to push the thing a little further, I would like them to tell tomorrow that they won’t broadcast the Olympics, nor the next FIFA World Cup, for example.

 

If they had the guts to do so, then I would show them lots of respect. Because in the end, by just creating tension as they did with this story, it’s focusing everybody’s attention on a problem that shouldn’t even be mentioned. Sinkewitz was already out of the race when they made their announcement. So what is the point in doing this? Honestly, there is something or someone who is not being fair with the sport of cycling and there is no reason for that.

 

As you said Fleur, I can tell you that you get into sport because you love it and you don’t do it for the money. Once you start doing it for the money, you can tell yourself it’s already too late and you can be sure that your career is already behind you.

 

To answer the ahoops question about Discovery: The reason why they can’t find a sponsor is not because of Operacion Puerto or Basso is implicated, it’s simply because Discovery is an American team and they are looking for a national sponsor, but in today’s U.S. cycling there is no one as charismatic as Lance--and I’m guessing everybody would like to have a new Lance each year. But there has only been one Michael Jordan, one Tiger Woods, one Fangio and this is what makes sports and life so unique!

 

Enjoy the show and feel free to ask anything on the Tour. I’m your insider!

Ronan

 

Ronan Pensec participated in 8 Tours, and wore the yellow jersey in the 1990. He now operates Ronan Pensec Events, an official Tour de France operator hosting VIP cycling tours for recreational cycling enthusiasts.

699 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: tour_de_france, 2007-tour-de-france, tour-de-france, ronan_pensec, ronan-pensec, 2007_tour_de_france
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